by Lindsay High, Director of Marketing, Humane Pennsylvania
Winter weather can bring about increased risks for your pets. When the temperatures drop pets are at a higher risk of experiencing hypothermia and/or freezing if left outside without adequate shelter for an extended period of time. These useful tips will help keep your pets, warm, happy, and safe during the winter months.
Provide Adequate Shelter
- Like humans, pets like to be warm and cozy during the winter. If you have pets that primarily live outdoors during other seasons, they should be brought indoors when sub-freezing temperatures arrive.
For community cats and other outdoor pets, provide adequate shelter that faces away from the wind with a covered doorway. The shelter should be insulated, dry, and draft-free. The shelter should also be large enough to allow them to move about comfortably, and small enough to maintain their body heat.
- Be sure to keep outdoor pets hydrated and well-fed. Ensure these pets are provided with fresh, unfrozen, water that is changed frequently. Warm bedding should also be provided. Hay or straw, as well as cozy pet beds, warm blankets, and pillows are recommended.
Outdoor pets burn more calories and need more food as keeping warm depletes energy. During the winter months, use plastic food and water bowls as a pet’s tongue can get stuck to metal.
- Pennsylvania state law governs that companion animals must have access to sanitary shelter which preserves body heat and keeps the pet dry. If a dog is tethered outdoors, which refers to the practice of fastening a dog to a stationary object or stake, usually in the owner’s backyard, as a means of keeping the animal under control. These terms do not refer to the periods when an animal is walked on a leash.
If a dog is tethered outdoors, the law states that the dog should not be tethered for more than 9 cumulative hours within a 24 hour period. The tether is secured to a well-fitting collar with a swivel and by a tether of no less than 10 feet or three times the length of the dog. The dog has access to water and an area of shade. The dog is not tethered for longer than 30 minutes when the temperature is over 90 degrees or under 32 degrees.
These standards must be met in order for the assumption to be made that the dog has not been neglected. If the dog is not tethered in a manner that satisfies these requirements, a law enforcement officer may file neglect charges. – Act 10 of 2017 Limits the Continuous Tethering of Dogs in Pennsylvania
Check Your Vehicle
- Cats and other wildlife may seek shelter from the cold winter weather by crawling in to the wheel well or under the hood of your vehicle. Your vehicle provides a warm place for the animal, however, this can be a very dangerous location for them.
– Bang on your hood and honk your horn before starting the engine in order to awaken any animals and give them the opportunity to escape the vehicle before for you pull away.
Keep their Skin Clean
- Salt and chemicals from ice melt can irritate your pet’s skin and paws. Following your winter stroll, thoroughly wash and dry any exposed areas of skin with clean water to remove any potential irritants from the belly, paw pads, and between the toes.
– Monitor exposed skin, such as the nose, ears, paws, and belly for and belly for signs of irritation and prolonged redness, lasting longer than 24 hours. You can also protect your pet’s sensitive skin with a warm pet jacket or sweater. Prior to taking your dog for a walk, apply a layer of petroleum jelly to your dog’s paw pads. This will act as a barrier and help protect their pads from salt and other irritants. Dog booties are also a great option to protect their pads from winter irritants.
Protect Against Poisons
- Many common household products are poisonous to your pets. Spills and leaks from vehicle can be especially dangerous. Coolant and antifreeze, for example, have a sweet taste that can attract your pet. However, these products can be deadly if ingested.
– Effectively clean up all vehicle spills to ensure your pets does not come in contact with these toxic materials.
Keep ID Current
- During the winter months, snow and ice can mask familiar scents that would help a lost pet find their way home. Be sure your pet is always wearing a collar with accurate contact information and keep them on a leash during walks.
– Have your pet microchipped to increase the likelihood that they will be returned to you safely if a separation were to occur.
Watch the Temperature Gauge
- Limit your pet’s exposure to the outdoors, for example, reduce duration of walks and leave your pets outside for quick bathroom breaks and for short burst of exercise.
- Also, senior pets may have a particularly hard time keeping warm in cold temperatures and may not be able to manage cold weather hazards, such as ice, with the same agility as a younger pets.
See Something, Say Something
- Speak out if you see an unsheltered or inadequately sheltered pet. Dropping temperatures can be deadly.
– Contact your local police or animal control agency if you see an animal that needs help.
In Berks County Contact: To report suspected Animal Cruelty call, the Animal Rescue League at 610-373-8830
In Lancaster County Contact: To report suspected Animal Cruelty, call the Lancaster County District Attorney’s Office at 717-917-6979