Thu, Jan 3, 2013 10:12 AM
The Humane Society of the United States urges pet owners to take
extra precautions to ensure the safety of their companion animals
during the winter storm that hit Vermont this past week.
"Animals rely solely on their human caregivers for safety and
comfort-especially during the winter months," said KC Theisen,
director of pet care issues for The HSUS. "Our pets are
particularly vulnerable during this frigid season, and with just a
few extra precautions you can help make sure that they stay safe
The best prescription for winter's woes is to keep your dog or
cat inside with you and your family. The happiest dogs are those
who are taken out frequently for walks and exercise but kept inside
the rest of the time. Dogs and cats are social animals who crave
human companionship. Your animal companions deserve to live indoors
with you and your family.
In many jurisdictions, leaving a domestic animal outside during
extreme cold, particularly if they are without access to shelter,
food and/or water, violates state or local animal cruelty laws.
Help keep your pet safe during the colder months by following
these simple guidelines:
• Don't leave pets outdoors when the temperature
drops. Dogs and cats are safer indoors, except when taken out for
supervised exercise. Regardless of the season, cats and
shorthaired, very young, or old dogs should never be left outside.
Short-coated dogs should wear a sweater during walks.
• Pets who spend time outdoors need more food in
the winter because keeping warm depletes energy. If you keep a
water bowl outside, routinely check to make certain the water is
fresh and unfrozen. Use plastic food and water bowls rather than
metal for any outside food or water bowls; when the temperature is
low, your pet's tongue can stick and freeze to metal. Heated
plastic pet water bowls are also an option to keep water from
freezing when your pets must be outdoors.
• Warm engines in parked cars attract cats and
small wildlife, who may crawl up under the hood. To avoid injuring
any hidden animals, bang on your car's hood to scare them away
before starting your engine.
• The salt and other chemicals used to melt snow
and ice can irritate the pads of your pet's feet and may be harmful
if ingested. Wipe their feet with a damp towel before your pet
licks them to remove snow packed between your pet's paws.
Pet-friendly ice melts are available at many pet supply stores
across the nation or online.
• Traditional antifreeze is a deadly poison, but
it has a sweet taste that can attract animals and children. Be
certain that any antifreeze you buy or have put in your car
contains a bittering agent that makes ingestion by pets and
children less likely.
• No matter what the temperature, wind chill can
threaten a pet's life. If your dog must spend significant time
outdoors he/she must be protected by a dry, draft-free doghouse
that is large enough to allow the dog to sit and lie down
comfortably, but small enough to hold in his/her body heat. The
floor should be raised a few inches off the ground and covered with
cedar shavings or straw. The house should be turned to face away
from the wind, and the doorway should be covered with waterproof
burlap or heavy plastic.
• If you're feeding feral cats, be sure to
provide an insulated shelter for them. Information about building a
shelter, spaying and neutering, and more is available at