Public Safety

How to keep your pets safe from frigid cold

Cedar Rapids Animal Care & Control shares tips on keeping furry friends warm

John Derryberry of Iowa City walks with his dog Marv during a snow storm, in Iowa City Sunday, Feb. 14, 2016. (Jessie Wardarski/The Gazette)
John Derryberry of Iowa City walks with his dog Marv during a snow storm, in Iowa City Sunday, Feb. 14, 2016. (Jessie Wardarski/The Gazette)

With subfreezing temperatures hitting the Corridor, pet owners are advised to take precautions against extreme cold that can harm even the furriest of friends.

According to a news release from Cedar Rapids Animal Care & Control, Diane Webber, Program Manager said cold weather can make health issues worse for pets.

“The best to do is to bring pets indoors. Even outdoor pets. If pets do want to be outside, you should make sure they have fresh water, food, and a warm place they can go, such as a heated kennel or homemade outdoor shelter,” she said in the release.

Here are a few additional guidelines shared in the release:

1. Keep the cat inside.

Outdoor felines can freeze, become lost or be stolen, injured or killed. During the winter, outdoor 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 outdoor cats in your area, bang loudly on the car hood before starting the engine to give the cat a chance to escape.

2. Protect dogs from salt

Thoroughly wipe off your dog’s legs and stomach when they comes in out of the sleet, snow or ice. Salt, antifreeze or other potentially dangerous chemicals can be ingested if the dog licks its paws and paw pads may also bleed from snow or encrusted ice.

3. Never shave your dog down to the skin in winter

A longer coat will provide more warmth for your pet. When bathing a dog in the colder months, be sure they are completely dry before taking them outside,

4. Never leave your dog or cat alone in a car

A car can act as a refrigerator in the winter, holding in the cold and causing the animal to freeze to death.

5. Increase food supply for active dogs

Does your dog spend a lot of time engaged in outdoor activities? Increase his supply of food, particularly protein, to keep him, and his fur, in tiptop shape.

Animals burn more calories in the winter maintaining their body temperature, so be sure that your pet gets enough good quality food to eat and help him stay warm.

6. Ensure your pet has access to fresh water

It’s also important to make sure that their water supply is fresh and not frozen and avoid using metal bowls for food and water. Your pet’s tongue can stick to the frozen metal.

Use a thick plastic, thermal-type of water dish. Wider and deeper is better for the water dish than narrow and shallow. This keeps the surface water from freezing longer.

7. Keep pets away from harmful chemicals

Like coolant, antifreeze is a lethal poison for dogs and cats. Be sure to thoroughly clean up any spills from your vehicle and consider using products that contain propylene glycol rather than ethylene glycol.

8. Make sure your pet has a warm place to sleep

They should be off the floor and away from all drafts. For example: a cozy dog or cat bed with a warm blanket or pillow.

9. Heed the ordinance

Cedar Rapids has an ordinance that requires that all pets must have adequate shelter from the elements — a crate or kennel is not enough when the temperatures dip below freezing.

According to the news release, adequate protection from the elements is described as a protected area, in addition to a doghouse or similar structure, that provides shade from the sun and protection from wind, rain, snow and extremes of hot and cold.

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