Cold Weather Pet Care Tips

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from Humane Pennsylvania


Winter weather can pose increased risks to your pets. When temperatures drop, pets are at greater risk of hypothermia and / or frostbite if left outside for long periods of time without adequate protection. These useful tips will help you keep your pets warm, happy, and safe during the winter months.

Provide adequate protection

  • Like humans, pets like to be warm and cozy in winter. If you have pets who live mostly outdoors at other times of the year, they should be brought indoors when freezing temperatures are around.
    For community cats and other pets outdoors, a covered doorway provides sufficient protection that is averted from the wind. The shelter should be insulated, dry and free of drafts. The shelter should also be big enough for them to move around comfortably and small enough to hold their body heat.
  • Make sure your pets are hydrated and well-fed when outdoors. Make sure these pets are supplied with fresh, non-frozen water that is changed frequently. Warm bedding should also be provided. We recommend hay or straw as well as cozy animal beds, warm blankets and pillows.
    Outdoor pets burn more calories and need more food because keeping them warm uses energy. Use plastic food and water bowls during the winter months as a pet’s tongue can stick to metal.
  • Pennsylvania state law states that pets must have access to sanitary facilities that maintain body heat and keep the pet dry. When a dog is tethered outdoors, it refers to the practice of tethering a dog to a stationary object or stake, usually in the owner’s back yard, to keep the animal under control. These terms do not refer to the times when an animal is kept on a leash.
    When a dog is tied outdoors, the dog may not be tied for more than 9 cumulative hours in a 24 hour period. The leash is attached to a well-fitting collar with a swivel and secured with a leash no less than 3 feet or three times the length of the dog. The dog has access to water and a shaded area. The dog is not tied for more than 30 minutes if the temperature is above 90 degrees or below 32 degrees.
    These standards must be met to assume that the dog has not been neglected. If the dog is not tied up in a manner that meets these requirements, a law enforcement officer can bring charges of negligence. – Law 10 of 2017 limits continuous dog tethering in Pennsylvania

Check your vehicle

  • Cats and other wildlife can take shelter from the cold winter weather by crawling into the wheel arch or under the hood of your vehicle. Your vehicle provides a warm place for the animal, but this can be a very dangerous place for them.
    – Slap the hood and honk before starting the engine to wake any animals and give them a chance to escape from the vehicle before starting.

Keep your skin clean

  • Salt and chemicals from melted ice can irritate your pet’s skin and paws. After your winter walk, wash and dry all exposed skin thoroughly with clean water to remove potential irritants from the stomach, the ball of the paws and between the toes.
    – Monitor exposed skin such as your nose, ears, paws and stomach for signs of irritation and persistent redness that lasts longer than 24 hours. You can also protect your pet’s delicate skin with a warm pet jacket or sweater. Before walking your dog, apply a layer of petroleum jelly to your dog’s paws. This will act as a barrier and will help protect your pads from salt and other irritants. Dog shoes are also a great option to protect your pads from winter irritation.

Protect from poisons

  • Many common household products are toxic to your pets. Vehicle spills and leaks can be particularly dangerous. For example, coolants and antifreeze have a sweet taste that can attract your pet. However, these products can be fatal if ingested.
    – Effectively clean up any spilled vehicles to ensure your pets do not come in contact with these toxic materials.

Keep your ID up to date

  • During the winter months, snow and ice can mask familiar odors that would help a lost pet find its way home. Make sure your pet always wears a collar with precise contact details and keep it on a leash when walking.
    – Have your pet microchipped to increase the chances that they will be safely returned to you in the event of separation.

Watch the temperature gauge

  • Limit your pet’s exposure to the open air, such as reducing the length of walks and leaving your pets outside for short toilet breaks and exercise.
  • In addition, older pets can find it particularly difficult to keep warm in cold temperatures, and they may not be able to deal with cold weather hazards such as being on the doorstep. B. ice, to cope with the same agility as younger pets.

See something, say something

  • Speak out when you see a pet that is not or inadequately protected. Falling temperatures can be fatal.
    – Contact your local police or animal welfare agency if you see an animal that needs help.
    Berks County Contact: To report suspected cruelty to animals, call the Animal Rescue League at 610-373-8830
    Lancaster County Contact: To report suspected cruelty, call the Lancaster County Attorney at 717-917-6979

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