Brrrr – It's Cold Outside! Cold Weather Pet Safety Tips
When the mercury dips into freezing temperatures, it’s important for you to protect your companion animals from the cold. Here are a few guidelines that will help you keep them safe:
- Keep your cat inside. Outdoors, felines can freeze, become lost or be stolen, injured or killed. During the winter, outdoor cats sometimes sleep under the hoods of cars. When the motor is started, the cat can be injured or killed by the fan belt. If there are outdoor cats in your area, bang loudly on the car hood before starting the engine to give the cat a chance to escape.
- Thoroughly wipe off your dog's legs and stomach when he comes in out of the sleet, snow or ice. He can ingest salt, antifreeze or other potentially dangerous chemicals while licking his paws, and his paw pads may also bleed from snow or encrusted ice.
- Never shave your dog down to the skin in winter, as a longer coat will provide more warmth. When you bathe your dog in the colder months, be sure to completely dry him before taking him out for a walk.
- Never leave your dog or cat alone in a car during cold weather. A car can act as a refrigerator in the winter, holding in the cold and causing the animal to freeze to death.
- If your dog is sensitive to the cold due to age, illness or breed type, take him outdoors only to relieve himself.
- Does your dog spend a lot of time engaged in outdoor activities? Increase his supply of food, particularly protein, to keep him, and his fur, in tip-top shape. Animals burn more calories in the winter maintaining their body temperature, so be sure that your pet gets enough good quality food to eat and help him stay warm.
- It’s also important to make sure that their water supply is fresh and not frozen. And don’t use a metal bowl for food and water. Your pet’s tongue can stick to the frozen metal. Use a thick plastic, thermal-type of water dish. It’s amazing how long it takes for water to freeze in one of these. Wider and deeper is better for the water dish than narrow and shallow. This keeps the surface water from freezing longer.
- Like coolant, antifreeze is a lethal poison for dogs and cats. Be sure to thoroughly clean up any spills from your vehicle, and consider using products that contain propylene glycol rather than ethylene glycol. Visit the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control) for more information.
- Make sure your companion animal has a warm place to sleep, off the floor and away from all drafts. A cozy dog or cat bed with a warm blanket or pillow is perfect.
- Cedar Rapids has an ordinance that requires that all pets must have adequate shelter from the elements – a crate or kennel is not enough when the temperatures dip below freezing.
City of Cedar Rapids Municipal Code - Chapter 23.01 Definitions
Adequate protection from the elements: A protected area, in addition to a doghouse or similar structure, that provides shade from the sun and protection from wind, rain, snow and extremes of hot and cold.
Adequate shelter: A dog house or similar structure, for each animal chained, tethered, penned or otherwise restrained or confined outdoors, suitable for the species, age, condition and size of the animal; that has solid sides, floor and top that do not leak air or moisture and a cover over the doorway which keeps the doghouse or structure dry and allows the animal unlimited access and egress from the doghouse or structure; is clean, safe, enables the animal to be clean and dry and protects the animal from injury, rain, sleet, snow, hail, direct sunlight, the adverse effects of heat or cold, physical suffering, and impairment of health; is large enough for the animal to stand up, lie down and stretch comfortably and make all other normal bodily movements in a comfortable, normal position for the animal; has a floor that is elevated from the ground and contains insulation between the floor and ground. A carrier or crate is not adequate shelter.
About Cedar Rapids Animal Care & Control
You can view a list of the many wonderful pets we have available for adoption by visiting our PetFinder website at www.petfinder.com/shelters/IA125.html. Shelter hours are Monday-Saturday, Noon to 5:00 p.m.