As the Denver Metro area braces for several days of bitter cold, Denver Animal Protection reminds residents to ensure pets are protected from the elements. Failing to do so could have dire consequence for pets and result in a Cruelty to Animals or Animal Neglect charge, up to a $999 fine and/or a year in jail for the owner.
Ideally, the best way to protect pets from extreme temperatures is to avoid long-term outdoor exposure. However, if pets have to be outside for longer durations, Denver city ordinance requires that pets have adequate outdoor shelter such as a dog house, porch area, or a similar structure that allows the animal to escape the elements.
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:
- When pets come in from the outdoors, remove snow, ice, salt other ice treatment chemicals from their coats and paws. This will not only keep them dry, but will also prevent them from ingesting the chemicals.
- Check for cracks in paw pads or redness between toes. Massaging petroleum jelly into paw pads before going outside can help protect from salt and chemical agents. Booties provide protection from irritation. Use pet-friendly ice melts whenever possible.
- 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.
- Don’t leave dangerous and potentially lethal chemicals like snow and ice remover or anti-freeze within your pet’s reach.
- Check under the hood of outdoor vehicles before starting them up. Stray cats often look for refuge on warm engines.
- Don’t shave your dog down to the skin in the winter as a longer winter coat will provide more warmth. If your dog is short-haired, consider getting a coat or sweater.
- Pets burn extra energy by trying to stay warm in the wintertime. Feeding your pet a little bit more during the cold weather months can provide much-needed calories. Ensure they also have plenty of water to help keep them hydrated and to prevent dry skin.
For information about Denver’s Animal Protection ordinances or additional pet safety tips, visit www.denveranimalshelter.org.