Reminder to Pet Owners to Prepare for Major Snows

Published on March 11, 2021

Failure to provide proper shelter from the elements could result in a $999 fine and/or a year in jail

DENVER – A massive winter storm this weekend could drop between one and three feet of snow, so Denver Animal Protection, a division of the Denver Department of Public Health & Environment, offers pet owners tips to safeguard their animals from the elements.

Failing to do this can lead to a Cruelty to Animals or Animal Neglect charge, up to a $999 fine and/or a year in jail for the owner.

Please make sure to include your pets in your winter storm preparation plans. First and foremost, don’t leave your pets outside. If the weather is too bad for you and your family, it’s also not safe for your pets. Protect them from the dangers heavy snow and cold temperatures create—including fallen trees and powerlines. If you must leave your animal outside for extended periods, Denver city ordinance requires pets have adequate outdoor shelter such as a doghouse, porch area, or a similar structure that allows the animal to escape the weather. Further insulating the shelter or adding a “doggie door” to a garage or covered area adds another layer of protection from the cold.

Additional tips include:

  • Do not let your pet roam unaccompanied after heavy snow. Pets of all types can become confused in heavy snow. It can turn their acute sense of smell useless. And without that sense of smell used for critical navigation, they can easily become disoriented, overwhelmed, and lost.
  • In case your pet escapes, make sure it’s wearing tags and collars with up-to-date contact information.
  • Stock up on all pet food and medicines in advance of the storm. Snow can make travel treacherous, even impossible. Make sure you have enough food and necessary medications to help you weather potential isolation.
  • When pets come in from the outdoors, remove snow, ice, salt and other ice-treatment chemicals from their coats and paws with a moist washcloth. This will keep them dry, but also prevent them from licking the chemicals and getting sick.
  • Don’t leave dangerous and potentially lethal chemicals like snow and ice remover or anti-freeze within your pet’s reach.
  • Prepare for the possibility of a power outage. This is especially important for pets that are amphibious or have scales and require a warmer environment. A backup generator might be a good investment to save the lives of these little creatures.
  • Check under the hood of outdoor vehicles before starting them up. Stray cats often look for refuge in warm engines.
  • Develop an emergency plan that accounts for your pets. Besides having enough food, water and medicine, also identify pet-friendly shelters that will protect your entire family—even the fuzzy ones.

For information about Denver’s Animal Protection ordinances or additional pet safety tips, visit