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Keeping Your Pets Safe in the Cold Weather

Director of Animal Control, Dan D'Eramo, talks with NBC4's Sheena Parveen about keeping your pets safe in cold weather and also how you can support DC's community cat population in cold weather with your own DIY winter shelter.

With some preventative measures in dealing with the cold, many problems can be easily avoided. Some important wintertime tips to remember:

  • If it’s too cold for you, it’s probably too cold for your pet, so keep your animals inside.
  • After each walk, wash and dry your pet’s feet and abdomen to remove ice, salt and chemicals—and check for cracks in paw pads or redness between the toes.
  • Never let your dog off the leash on snow or ice, especially during a snowstorm. Dogs frequently lose their scent in snow and ice and can easily become lost. They may panic in a snowstorm and run away. More dogs are lost during the winter than during any other season.
  • Use paw protectants (like petroleum jelly) on paw pads to protect against salt and other chemicals. If your dog will tolerate them, booties provide even more coverage and can also prevent sand and salt from getting lodged between bare toes and causing irritation.
  • Use pet-friendly ice melts whenever possible.
  • Antifreeze for your car is a lethal poison for dogs and cats. Be sure to thoroughly clean up any spills from your vehicle.
  • Cold and dry weather can cause itchy, flaking skin. Keep your home humidified and towel dry your pet as soon as he comes inside, paying special attention to his feet and in-between the toes.
  • Don’t cut your dog’s hair in winter. Longer coats provide warmth. If your dog is long-haired, simply trim him to minimize the clinging snow and ice.
  • If your dog is short-haired, consider getting him a coat or sweater with a high collar or turtleneck with coverage from the base of the tail to the belly.
  • Make sure your companion animal has a warm place to sleep, off the floor and away from all drafts.

In addition to these tips, we would like to remind pet owners that new DC laws recently passed by the DC Council prohibit animals left outside longer than 15 minutes with temperatures below freezing. The new law also defines adequate shelter for animals kept outside with temperatures below 40 degrees.

Please call 202-723-5730 for all animal related emergencies, including animals left outside in extreme temperatures.


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