Winter Preparedness

When the weather outside gets frightful, we know to bring ourselves inside for shelter and warmth. However, it’s also up to you to protect your pets from cold temperatures and dangerous winter storms.

Food and Water

An important care note during the winter is to make sure your pet has access to food and water. In lower temperatures, animals will require additional feed (especially protein) because their bodies will work harder to stay warm. Fresh, drinkable water is also necessary, and owners should check water bowls regularly to prevent freezing.

Provide Adequate Shelter

While it’s always best to bring pets indoors in cold temperatures, you must provide them with shelter (PDF) if that’s not an option. Safe winter shelters are ones that are off the ground. Position the entry door away from the prevailing wind to minimize cold drafts, and ensure that the shelter offers a snug fit, while still allowing the dog an opportunity to move around easily.

Although they are covered with fur, dogs do get cold in the winter and need your help to stay warm. Insulate shelters against the cold by using straw (which can be provided by through Pet Adoption Center). If you provide additional heating opportunities, do not allow your pet to walk or lie directly on heated mats, as this could cause burns and avoid space heaters or heat lamps that could cause fires. To obtain warm straw for outdoor pets (please note that this is not transferable to livestock), please call 636-949-7387.

Walking the Dog

When walking your dog in the winter, be sure to keep him or her on leash at all times, as snow and ice can cover familiar scents. Long-haired or thick-coated dogs may be more tolerant, but owners should consider a dry sweater or coat when their pet heads outdoors in cold temperatures. Snow and ice-covered ponds, sidewalks or roadways can hide dangers, and sensitive paws can become damaged by sharp ice crystals. Also, clean paws and fur from salt or other ice melt material, as these items can be dangerous if swallowed.

Check Your Surroundings

It’s also important to remember that outdoor cats and wildlife will sometimes seek shelter under the hood of cars or in garages. Therefore, bang loudly on the hood of your vehicle prior to starting to allow them time to escape the harm. Clean up antifreeze spills thoroughly, as the sweet-tasting liquid is appealing to animals but is toxic - even in small amounts.

For more cold weather safety tips or to inquire about building a protective shelter, please call the Pet Adoption Center at 636-949-7387.

If you are in St. Charles County and need a warm place to spend the night when the overnight temperature is forecasted to be at or below 20°, please call 636-395-0492 for assistance information.