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Protect Your Pets During Winter Weather

Contact: Melissa Knicely, CMPD's Animal Care & Control

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department’s Animal Care & Control reminds pet owners that with the cold temperatures and winter weather predicted to move into our area, it’s imperative you take precautions to keep your pets warm, dry and safe. 

The best option is to bring outdoor pets inside. If you are unable to bring animals into your indoor heated living space but have a garage or basement, provide proper bedding or straw and remember that these areas will likely fall below freezing tonight. 

If there is no way possible for you to bring your pets inside, CMPD Animal Care & Control has teamed up with Home Depot at Rivergate to help! Home Depot at Rivergate has graciously donated bales of straw for citizens who are unable to bring their pets inside (often due to lease restrictions). The hay will be available for citizens to pick up at the animal shelter front parking lot located at 8315 Byrum Drive, Charlotte, NC 29217.  We ask that you limit to 1 bail per household.  This will be available for pick up today beginning at 1pm.

When taking dogs out for bathroom breaks, remember to consider the breed and the type of coat they have. Some dogs cannot tolerate the cold temperatures for an extended period of time. Always make sure to inspect the dogs paws when they come inside, and if they have walked on surfaces that may have been treated for ice, be sure to clean their paws thoroughly.

Below are some safety tips to keep in mind during the winter months.
Do not leave your pets outdoors unattended when the temperature gets below freezing!
Pets must build up a thicker coat and get their footpads toughened for snow and ice. Also, pets that get too cold could develop hypothermia or even frostbite. Animals that stay well hydrated are less likely to be affected. That is why it is especially important to make sure your pet’s water bowl does not freeze. Break up any ice that forms in the bowl and change the water frequently.

Animals also like the taste of antifreeze, but it is a deadly poison. The most likely source of antifreeze is from radiator drainage in your garage or driveway. If your car leaks any antifreeze, immediately wash it away with water.
Below is specific advice related to different types of pets:

If your pet spends a lot of time outdoors, let him get acclimated gradually to dropping temperatures. Outdoor pets need a sheltered place that is well bedded with DRY straw, shavings or blanket strips that trap warm air. Remember that animals drag a lot of moisture into their bedding areas from snow, rain and mud. Check their bedding often and change it whenever it is wet. Also, outdoor pets need more food during the winter because extra calories are needed to produce more body heat.

Most cats prefer to spend the winter indoors, but if your cat prefers to stay outside, be very cautious. Cats left outdoors have a particular hazard because they often crawl into car engines to stay warm. When the engine is started up, the cat can be seriously injured or killed by the fan blade or belt.

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.

Thoroughly wipe off dog’s legs, feet and stomach when they come in out of the snow or ice. They can ingest salt, antifreeze or other dangerous chemicals if they lick their paws. Be sure to inspect the pads of their feet for encrusted ice as they may crack from the cold. Many dogs need boots in cold weather.

Dogs with very short coats have the least tolerance for cold. Extremely short-coated breeds include Greyhounds, Dobermans, Boxers, Boston Terriers, Chihuahuas, Miniature Pinschers and Miniature Dachshunds. These breeds should not go outside without a sweater or a coat. Dogs should not be shaved down to the skin during the winter months. If you bathe your dogs during the winter, be sure the dry them completely before they go outside.