ASPCA Urges Pet Owners to Prepare for Winter Storm Stella

Take extra precautions to keep pets safe during dangerous weather
March 13, 2017

New York, N.Y.—In anticipation of winter storm Stella hitting the eastern region this week, the ASPCA® (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) is urging pet owners to take measures to keep their families and pets safe. Storm and blizzard warnings are in effect throughout the east, with the National Weather Service forecasting heavy snow and strong winds up to 50 mph, likely leaving many households without power.

“These low temperatures and heavy amounts of snow pose a danger to both humans and animals,” said Dr. Dick Green, senior director of Disaster Response for the ASPCA Field Investigations and Response team. “We can’t stress how important it is to bring your pet inside, and be aware of dangers such as snow-melting salt, which can be painful to animals’ paws and make them ill if ingested.”

The ASPCA urges pet owners to develop emergency plans that account for the safety of their animals, to stay up to date on storm conditions and warnings in their areas, and to check with their local Office of Emergency Management for important information.

The following tips will help pet owners prepare for winter storms:

  • Never leave your pet outside during a snowstorm for longer than you’d would want to be out there with them. If it's too cold for you, it's too cold for your pet.
  • Prepare indoor play activities for your pets who are used to more outside time.
  • Stock up on pet food and medicines your animals may need, as winter storms can take out power, close roads, and even trap you in your home.
  • Thoroughly wipe off your dog’s paws and belly with a moist washcloth after going outside. Snow-melting salt can be very painful to dogs’ feet and cause illness if ingested. Clumps of snow can accumulate between toes and cause pain as well. Dog boots and salves can be purchased to protect sensitive dog paws.
  • During the winter, outdoor cats sometimes sleep underneath cars for shelter. Bang loudly on the car hood before starting the engine to give any resting cats a chance to escape.
  • Consider giving short-haired or smaller dogs a coat and booties to wear outside to protect them from the elements and the chilly temperature.
  • If you lose power, be sure candles aren’t in locations where your pet can knock them over. 

The ASPCA’s free mobile app provides pet owners with critical information on what to do before, during, and after a disaster, and gives personalized instructions on how to search for and recover a lost animal in a variety of circumstances. You can also store your pets' medical records and other important information -- such as microchip numbers and veterinarians’ contact information -- often needed when bringing your animal to an evacuation shelter. Visit to download on iTunes or Google Play.

The ASPCA’s shareable cold weather pet care infographic can be found here. For more information on cold weather pet safety tips from the ASPCA, please visit