Winter Weather Safety TipsWith increasingly cold weather on the way, it’s VERY important to consider our furry friends…

Follow these tips to keep animals safe and comfortable in the cold.


  • Keep your pets inside with you and your family. Under no circumstances should pet cats be left outdoors during extreme cold weather, even if they roam outside during other seasons. Dogs are happiest when taken out frequently for walks and exercise, but kept inside the rest of the time. Don’t leave pets outdoors when the temperature drops!


  • No matter what the temperature is, windchill can threaten a pet’s life. Exposed skin on noses, ears, and paw pads are at risk for frostbite and hypothermia during extreme cold snaps. For this reason, short-haired dogs often feel more comfortable wearing a sweater – even during short walks.
  • Rock salt and other chemicals used to melt snow and ice can irritate the pads of your pet’s feet. Wipe all paws with damp towel before your pet licks them and irritates their mouth.


  • Antifreeze is a deadly poison, but it has a sweet taste that may attract animals and children. Wipe up any antifreeze spills immediately and keep it, like all household chemicals, out of reach. Coolants and antifreeze made with propylene glycol are less toxic to pets, wildlife, and family.


  • If there are outdoor cats, either owned pets or community cats in your area, remember that they need protection from the elements as well as food and water. It’s easy to give them a hand. Keep in mind that water dishes may freeze. Check water frequently.
  • You can make your own cat shelter quickly and easily with a plastic tub.
  • Cars are one of many hazards to small animals – warm engines in parked cars attract cats and small wildlife, who may crawl up under the hood. To avoid injuring any hidden animals, bang on your car’s hood to scare them away before starting your engine.


  • If you encounter a pet left in the cold, politely let the owner know you’re concerned. Some people genuinely don’t know the risk that cold weather poses to their pets or livestock and will be quick to correct any problems you address. If someone you raise these concerns with responds poorly or continues to neglect their animals, please report concerns to the San Juan County Sheriff’s Department at (360)378-4151.