Veterinarians and animal advocates are offering tips and advice for pet owners to help keep animals safe as an Arctic cold front approaches North Texas.

“In these extreme conditions, protecting your pets as much as possible is vital. Pets should be brought indoors if at all possible. Dog houses (with elevated floors) to help block the wind are good, but additional insulation or a heat source should be provided. Make sure any outdoor housing provided is watertight….cold is bad, and cold is potentially deadly. Keep an eye on your pet’s water when a lengthy freeze is expected. Pets drink less during the winter months, but they still need a viable water source at all times,” said Humane Society of North Texas (HSNT) Clinic Medical Director Cynthia Jones.

HSNT also has some tips for keeping your pets safe:

  • Provide Adequate Shelter: Ensure your pet has a warm and insulated shelter. This could be a well-insulated dog house or a cozy shelter with blankets for smaller pets. Make sure it protects them from wind, rain, and cold temperatures.
  • Warm Bedding: Place warm bedding inside their shelter, such as blankets or straw. This will help them stay insulated from the cold ground.
  • Adjust Diet: In colder weather, pets may burn more calories to stay warm. Consider adjusting their diet to provide extra calories, but consult with your vet to determine the appropriate amount.
  • Check Water Bowls: Ensure your pet always has access to unfrozen water. Check their water bowls regularly and replace frozen water with fresh, lukewarm water.
  • Dress Appropriately: For some pets, especially smaller or short-haired breeds, consider dressing them in pet-friendly clothing designed for cold weather. This can help keep them warm during outdoor activities.
  • Limit Outdoor Time: Minimize your pet’s time outdoors during extremely cold weather. If possible, encourage them to exercise indoors or take shorter walks.
  • Protect Paws: Cold weather can be harsh on your pet’s paws. Consider using pet-safe paw balm to protect their pads from salt and ice. You can also use booties designed for pets.
  • Regular Grooming: Keep your pet’s coat clean and well-groomed. A clean and well-maintained coat provides better insulation against the cold.
  • Check for Signs of Cold Stress: Be observant of signs of cold stress, such as shivering, lethargy, or seeking warm places. If you notice any concerning behavior, consult with your veterinarian.
  • Visit the Vet: Schedule a check-up with your vet before the onset of winter. Ensure your pet is healthy and discuss any specific concerns or precautions needed based on their breed and health condition.

Advocates also warn that any weather treatments you may use on your sidewalk or driveway don’t stick to your pets’ paws.

“If you use salt or other chemicals to keep ice off of pavement, sidewalks, just know those can hurt your pet, they can be poisonous, they can be deadly to pets depending on that chemical is, so pets are gonna lick their paws so make sure when you bring them in, wipe their paws off gentle with warm water and a cloth,” said Maura Davies with the SPCA.

Another helpful tip for everyone and not just pet owners: If your car is parked outside, be sure to bang on the side or the hood before you start it. Honking the horn can also alert animals that may be hiding underneath or inside for warmth.

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