Prepping your pet for winter weather

(STL.News) As temperatures plummet to below freezing and North Texas begins to face winter weather advisories, it is critical that pet owners prioritize the safety of their pets.  The City of Dallas requires that all pets have access to warm and dry shelter once the actual or effective temperature reaches 32 degrees.

“What is adequate during our typical 50-degree winter days is not adequate during the freezing weather we are beginning to face now,” said Ed Jamison, director of Dallas Animal Services.  “The safest option is to bring your pets indoors when the temperatures drop like this.”

Dallas Animal Services (DAS) suggests that if it’s too cold for you, it’s probably too cold for your pet.  All pets are at risk during this weather, regardless of size or breed.

“Don’t be fooled by your pet’s fur coat,” continues Jamison, “even winter breeds with thick coats are at risk when temperatures reach freezing, particularly here in Texas where pets are not used to this type of weather.”

If you see a pet that you believe is in distress or is left outdoors in freezing temperatures without shelter, please call 3-1-1 to make a report.

“We take the safety of pets in Dallas very seriously,” said DAS Field & Medical Services Manager, Ann Barnes. However, don’t assume that any pet outside is in danger or without shelter. We ask that residents do their best to determine whether other pet owners have set up adequate outdoor shelter prior to calling to 3-1-1, which allows officers to focus attention on pets in dire need.”

Shelter isn’t the only important consideration during cold spells. To keep your pets healthy and happy during cold weather, the ASPCA recommends:

  1. Towel dry your pet as soon as you come inside on cold and wet days to keep pets comfortable and to avoid skin issues.
  2. Avoid shaving your pet’s fur short in winter months as this decreases their ability to stay warm.
  3. Keep walks short during wet or icy days and consider massaging petroleum jelly into their paws before leaving the house to provide extra protection. Booties are another great option!
  4. Pavement and cement are very cold in the winter, so walking on grass may be a more comfortable option.
  5. Remember that antifreeze and many chemicals used to melt ice are toxic to pets and should be avoided when possible or kept out of reach.
  6. Never leave a pet in a car during cold spells.  Cars can act as refrigerators and can cause pets to freeze to death or experience hypothermia.

Written by, Dallas Animal Services PIO and Deme Jackson