As the snow falls and temperatures drop, it is best to keep your animals warm and dry as much as possible. Many dogs do not have enough coat or body fat to last long in the cold. And even for those outfitted with a husky or malamute type coat, prolonged exposure still brings all sorts of risks. Covering a pup up in a coat or sweater helps, but with windchills around or below zero, any exposed area is in danger.
Already at risk dogs need to keep outside time especially short, including puppies, sick, older dogs and those low to the ground who are more apt to be covered by the snow immediately. As all of the precipitation freezes over, slippery conditions can result in joint injuries big and senior dogs. Even for the healthiest of dogs, the salt poses anything from mild discomfort to burns and infection. Not to mention the freezing hands of the humans tasked with cleaning out the pads and getting all four feet back on the ground. There are all kinds of footwear that might be able to help, plus protective balms for when you have to be out in the weather.
Between the risk of slipping, frostbite, hypothermia and salt burns, walking is treacherous and dangerous for people and dogs alike. Play it safe for a few days, bypass the hazardous conditions and opt for enrichment like:, training a few tricks, interacting with games or getting a quality chew toy (like a humane antler from your local pet supply store) to pass the time. Make some homemade treats and you'll be sure to have happy pups and a pretty good smelling kitchen (to counteract the wet dog smell).
For cats that can come inside, that is by far the best option. For any feral or alley cats, it is easy to quickly make an outside enclosure to keep them as safe as possible and give outside cats the optimal chance of surviving the harsh conditions. Check out all of the options on Alley Cat Allies website or rig up your own and put out some extra food and water.
Please urge your neighbors to keep their pets inside and if you see a stray out in the elements, call the Animal Care and Control Team at 267-385-3900. If an animals is left out for an extended period, contact the PSPCA's Humane Law Enforcement at 866-601-SPCA.
For more information also see some of these helpful links:
- Citizens For a No Kill Philadelphia's helpful flyer with tips for dogs, cats and resources for cold weather care.
- Need some extra warmth- go visit ACCT at 111 W. Hunting Park Avenue and get yourself a snuggly little heater by adopting or fostering one of the many homeless pets in need
- Petfinder has a more complex cat house for feral cats if you have a colony nearby and like a DIY project