Keep Pets Safe in Extreme Cold

Cold Weather Pet Tips from the Kentucky Humane Society

With temperatures dropping throughout the region, what can pet owners do to keep pets warm and healthy? Follow these tips provided by the Kentucky Humane Society:

  • Do not leave pets outdoors when the temperature drops. If you have outdoor dogs, bring them inside. Pets are at risk of frostbite, hypothermia and death during extreme cold snaps, and wind chill is particularly dangerous. Exposed skin on noses, ears and paws can quickly freeze and suffer permanent damage.
  • If you care for community, unowned cats (often called feral cats), be sure they have access to fresh water—use deep bowls rather than wide ones, and refill them with hot or warm water twice a day. Feed cats on a regular schedule and consider adding wet food, which is easier to digest and allows cats to save more energy for keeping warm. Protect them from the elements by providing cat shelters. You can build one yourself or convert Rubbermaid storage bins, Styrofoam coolers or small dog houses into shelters.
  • During the winter, community 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 community cats in your area, bang loudly on the car hood before starting the engine.
  • Like coolant, antifreeze is lethal for pets. Thoroughly clean up any spills from your vehicle, and consider using products that contain propylene glycol rather than ethylene glycol.
  • Avoid salt and chemical melting products. They can be toxic to animals and harmful to their paws.
  • Wipe your pet’s paws and stomach when she comes in out of the sleet, snow or ice. She could ingest salt, antifreeze or other dangerous chemicals while licking her paws.
  • Do not let your dog off the leash on snow or ice, especially during a snowstorm: dogs can lose their scent and easily become lost.
  • Puppies do not tolerate the cold as well as adult dogs, and may be difficult to housebreak during the winter. If your puppy appears to be sensitive to the weather, you may opt to paper-train her inside. If your dog is sensitive to the cold due to age, illness or breed type, take her outdoors only to relieve herself.
  • Never shave your dog down to the skin in winter, as a longer coat will provide more warmth. Own a short-haired breed? Consider getting him a coat or sweater.
Reporting Outside Animals

If you are worried about an outside animal in Jefferson County, contact Louisville Metro Animal Services, the agency in charge of investigating suspected animal neglect and abuse. If you live in another county, contact your county’s animal control agency. 

More Pet Safety Tips

For more tips, call the Kentucky Humane Society’s free Pet Help Line, 502-509-4PET or visit kyhumane.org/help. The Pet Help Line provides advice for all things pet-related and is made possible by a grant from the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) and the Banfield Foundation.

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