March 2, 2018

URGENT: Take Precautions to Keep Your Pets Safe As Winter Storm Hits

With Winter Storm Riley dangerously hitting the eastern region through the weekend, the ASPCA is urging pet owners to take added measures to keep pets safe. Freezing rain and snow are in effect throughout the East, with the National Weather Service calling this a “life and death” situation and forecasting winds exceeding 50 mph.

“Heavy rain, snow and strong winds can put both humans and animals in severe danger, so it’s imperative that pet owners in the storm’s path bring their pets inside, and those living in coastal areas take their pets with them if they’re forced to evacuate,” said Dr. Dick Green, Senior Director of Disaster Response for ASPCA Field Investigations and Response. “Lost and left-behind pets face life-threatening danger during storms. Owners should realize that hazardous conditions for people are equally hazardous—possibly more so—for pets.”

We urge you to have emergency plans in place to protect and care for your animals, to stay up-to-date on storm conditions and warnings in your area and to check with your local Office of Emergency Management for important information. The following tips will also help you prepare your pets for severe winter weather:

  • 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.
  • If you evacuate, take your pets with you. Never leave your pets behind or tether them to poles or trees, which prevents them from escaping high waters and getting to safe areas.
  • Make sure all pets are wearing ID tags with up-to-date contact information. You should also have your pet microchipped as a more permanent form of identification, in case collars or tags become lost.
  • Never leave your pet outside during a snowstorm, and consider giving short-haired or smaller dogs a coat and booties to wear during walks to protect them from the elements and cold temperatures. Realize that if it's too cold for you, it's too cold for your pet.
  • 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.
  • Know that, 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.

The ASPCA’s free mobile app provides pet owners with critical information on what to do before, during and after a disaster, and gives tips on how to search for and recover a lost pet in a variety of circumstances. You can also store your pet’s medical records and other important pet information -- such as microchip numbers, vaccination records, and contact information for your local veterinarian. These are often required when bringing animals to an evacuation shelter. Visit www.ASPCAapp.org  to download the free app on iTunes or Google Play.

For more information on cold weather pet safety tips from the ASPCA, please visit https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/general-pet-care/cold-weather-safety-tips.