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Cold Weather Tips for Pets!

Posted January 07, 2015 in Adel, Altoona, Ames, Ankeny, Beaverdale, Bondurant, Boone, Clear Lake, Clive, Des Moines West, Downtown, Community Web Exclusives, Greene County, Grimes, Johnston, Norwalk, Perry, Pleasant Hill, Urbandale, Waukee, West Des Moines, Windsor Heights, Winterset

Winter weather is here to stay. Here are some tips from the Animal Rescue League of Iowa (ARL) to keep your pets – and the pets in your community – safe in these brutally cold temperatures.  To report an animal in distress in Des Moines, call ARL Animal Control at 283-4811.  All other cities, call the non-emergency police number.

  1. Keep indoor cats inside. Cats can get lost in wintery weather and become injured or worse. They also have a higher risk of exposure to diseases including rabies from other animals they may encounter. If there are cats outdoors, provide them with a warm place to sleep, access to unfrozen water and nutritious food.
  2. Dogs that are let off-leash during the winter, especially during a snowstorm, have a higher chance of becoming lost. Make sure your dog is wearing ID tags and has been microchipped to increase the chances of being reunited with you if he becomes lost.
  3. Check twice before starting your car. Outdoor cats often climb under the hoods of cars to keep warm. When the motor starts, the cat may be injured or killed by the fan belt. Knock or bang loudly on the hood of your car before starting it to give cats a chance to escape.
  4. Never leave your cat or dog in a vehicle in cold weather. The vehicle acts as a refrigerator, keeping the cold in and causing the animal to freeze.
  5. Antifreeze may be good for your car but it is lethal for dogs and cats. Clean up any spills thoroughly and consider using products that contain propylene glycol rather than ethylene glycol.
  6. Towel dry your dog’s paws, legs and stomach when he comes in out of winter weather. Chemical agents used to melt ice can be dangerous for your dog to ingest while licking his paws. Snow and encrusted ice may also cause your dog’s paw pads to bleed.
  7. Never shave your dog to the skin in the winter. Dogs need their coat to provide warmth. When you give your dog a bath in the winter, be sure he is thoroughly dry before letting him outside. For dogs with shorter coats, consider getting a coat or sweater that covers his body from the base of the tail to the belly. Keep pets’ fur mat free. Mats do not allow the pet’s coat to keep the animal warm.
  8. Know how much cold your pet can tolerate. Puppies, small dogs and older dogs have a lower tolerance for cold temperatures. Let them outside only to relieve themselves, or you may choose to train him to use paper pads indoors.
  9. If your dog is built for colder weather and enjoys playing in the cold, increase the amount of food he is given, especially extra protein, to keep him and his fur healthy and in good shape.
  10. Make sure your pet has a warm place to sleep, off the floor and away from drafts. A warm blanket or pet bed will be much appreciated by your companion! If you have an outside dog, consider bringing him inside during these cold snaps. If your dog HAS to stay outside, make sure he has adequate shelter and fresh unfrozen water. Your dog’s shelter needs to keep him warm, with dry bedding and protection from the wind. Aging, undernourished and pets with medical conditions should not be out in the cold even with a doghouse.

About Animal Rescue League of Iowa

The Animal Rescue League of Iowa is Iowa’s largest nonprofit animal shelter, caring for many thousands of pets each year.  The ARL serves people and pets from across the state through pet adoption, humane education, pet behavior training, spay/neuter, animal cruelty intervention and much more.  For more information, visit

Stephanie Filer
Manager of Special Gifts & Partnerships
Animal Rescue League of Iowa, Inc.
Direct Line:  (515) 473-9116
Mobile:  (319) 929-5540

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