With temperatures forecast to dip below freezing tonight and in the nights ahead, Multnomah County Animal Services reminds cat and dog owners to remember some common-sense safety tips for their pets.
“Freezing temperatures create extra dangers for our animals,” said Mike Oswald, director of Multnomah County Animal Services.
“When it gets cold,” Oswald said, “it’s important to remember there are some simple steps each of us can take to make sure our pets stay safe.”
In addition to its responsibilities for licensing, adopting out and spay/neutering animals, Multnomah County Animal Services is also responsible 24 hours a day to respond to animal emergency calls. If you see an unaccompanied animal left behind in a car or any other animal emergency, please consult the owner if possible. If that is not an option, please call 9-1-1 or 503-988-7387.
Here are 10 recommended precautions from the ASPCA for animals during cold weather, and for when snow, ice or sleet is in the forecast:
1. Keep your cat inside. Outdoors, catscan freeze, become lost or be stolen, injured or killed.
2. During the winter, outdoor cats sometimes sleep under car hoods. When the motor is started, the cat can be injured or killed by the fan belt. If there are outdoor cats in your area, bang loudly on the car hood before starting the engine to give the cat a chance to escape.
3. Never let your dog off the leash on snow or ice, especially during a snowstorm, dogs can lose their scent and easily become lost. More dogs are lost during the winter than during any other season, so make sure yours always wears ID tags.
4. Thoroughly wipe off your dog's legs and stomach when he comes in out of the sleet, snow or ice. He can ingest salt, antifreeze or other potentially dangerous chemicals while licking his paws, and his paw pads may also bleed from snow and ice.
5. Never shave your dog down to the skin in winter, as a longer coat will provide more warmth. When you bathe your dog in the colder months, be sure to completely dry him before taking him out for a walk. Own a short-haired breed? Consider getting him a coat or sweater with a high collar or turtleneck with coverage from the base of the tail to the belly. For many dogs, this is regulation winter wear.
6. Never leave your dog or cat alone in a car during cold weather. A car can act as a refrigerator in the winter, holding in the cold and causing the animal to freeze to death.
7. Puppies do not tolerate the cold as well as adult dogs, and may be difficult to housebreak during the winter. If your puppy appears to be sensitive to the weather, you may opt to paper-train him inside. If your dog is sensitive to the cold due to age, illness or breed type, take him outdoors only to relieve himself.
8. Does your dog spend a lot of time engaged in outdoor activities? Increase his supply of food, particularly protein, to keep him, and his fur, in tip-top shape.
9. Like coolant, antifreeze is a lethal poison for dogs and cats. Be sure to thoroughly clean up any spills from your vehicle, and consider using products that contain propylene glycol rather than ethylene glycol. Visit the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center more information.
10. Make sure your companion animal has a warm place to sleep, off the floor and awayfrom all drafts. A cozy dog or cat bed with a warm blanket or pillow is perfect.