ASPCA Urges Pet Owners to Take Precautions as Record-Breaking Winter Storms Sweep Across the Western United States

December 29, 2021

NEW YORK, N.Y.—As many areas across the western region of the country are impacted by inclement weather this week, the ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) is reminding pet owners that cold temperatures can be particularly dangerous for pets. The ASPCA urges pet owners to take measures to keep their pets safe as temperatures drop and heavy snow and ice threaten the Northwest leaving many homes without adequate power and heat.

“With record-breaking low temperatures and snowfall across much of the Northwest, preparing our pets for potentially hazardous weather conditions is a vital step in ensuring their safety and wellbeing,” said Susan Anderson, Director of Disaster Response for the ASPCA National Field Response team. “Pets can freeze, become disoriented, lost, injured, or even killed from being left outdoors in the cold. All animals, including outdoor animals, should be immediately brought and kept inside until the storm and cold temperatures pass.”

While many areas across the country are experiencing the impacts of this severe winter weather, please remember the following advice from ASPCA experts:

  • If it is too cold for you, it is probably too cold for your pet.

During inclement weather, keep your pets inside where they can stay warm and safe and consider giving short-haired or smaller dogs a coat and booties to wear during short walks. Ensure your pet has a warm place to sleep that is off the floor with extra bedding and away from drafts. If you see symptoms of frostbite, such as discoloration, swelling, or skin ulcers, contact your veterinarian immediately.

  • After each walk, make sure to towel-dry your pet and clean their feet and stomach.

While on a walk, your pet may step in ice, salt, and chemicals—which can be very painful. Remember to check for cracks in paw pads or redness between the toes. Booties can be effective in covering and protecting paws when out on walks.

This kit should include essential items such as medical records, water, water bowls, pet food, and any necessary pet medications to last at least five days. Make sure all pets wear collars and tags with up-to-date identification information. If you do evacuate, never leave your pet behind. If you are home without power, consider keeping your pet with a friend or family member and providing detailed instructions for care and contact information for their veterinarian.

  • All pets, especially small and exotic pets, will need more food and water on cold days, particularly if your power goes out.

Colder weather means more calories are expended to stay warm, so it’s vital to keep them properly hydrated. If you’re running low on pet food, here is a list of common foods that you can mix with kibble or serve alone for a dog or cat meal.

  • Be prepared in the event you lose electricity.

Determine well in advance which rooms in your home offer safe havens. These rooms should be clear of windows, such as utility rooms, bathrooms, and basements. Fill up bathtubs and sinks ahead of time to ensure that you have access to water during a power outage. Candles and pets can be a dangerous combination. Instead of candles, consider battery powered lanterns, flashlights, and headlamps.

  • During the winter, outdoor cats sometimes seek shelter underneath cars.

Bang loudly on the car hood before starting the engine to give cats a chance to escape.