Ways to Keep Your Pets Safe During the Cold Winter Weather
INGHAM COUNTY - With 5 to 8 inches of snow expected for the area during the first Winter Storm Warning of the season and temperatures reaching the teens, winter pet safety is something to consider.
The Ingham County Animal Control and Shelter (ICAC) reminds pet owners to protect their animals from the hazards of winter.
Pet owners are encouraged to bring their pets indoors during cold weather, but if animals are housed outdoors they need proper shelter. ICAC says that dog houses and cat shelters need to be insulated and properly sized to retain the pet’s body heat. Houses should be bedded with straw. Shredded paper or blankets absorb water and freeze and are not adequate bedding. Shelters should have an insulated floor to protect animals from the cold ground and doors should face south or be equipped with fabric or plastic flaps to protect pets from the wind. Very young or very old animals or pets with medical conditions are more susceptible to cold weather hazards as are dogs with short coats, small breed dogs, and cats.
ICAC has dog houses and straw available to Ingham County residents at no charge at the shelter in Mason and the ICAC Outreach Center.
Besides proper shelter, animals also need access to drinking water at all times. Animals kept outdoors should have heated water bowls or have their water changed several times daily. Dogs and cats cannot remain hydrated by eating snow. Snow also lowers their body temperature, increasing the risk of hypothermia.
Salt and other chemicals used to melt ice and snow can be hazardous to pets. Pets feet should be wiped clean after walking in snow melt chemicals to prevent skin irritation and ingestion by licking. Salt and other chemicals must be stored away from pets. Protect pets from car antifreeze. Ethylene glycol, a main ingredient in antifreeze, tastes sweet but is highly toxic. Clean up spills immediately and store antifreeze in a safe place.
Outdoor cats often climb into car engine compartments for warmth. Bang on your hood or honk your horn to scare cats out of this dangerous environment prior to starting your car in cold weather.
Citizens who are aware of animals without proper winter shelter, or subject to any other form of cruelty or neglect, should make a report through ICAC dispatch at 517.676.8370 or the Animal Cruelty Hotline 517.676.8376. Complaints can be made anonymously.