Winter Pet Safety

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Your pet may not be ready for the Iditarod, but with this cold weather, you need to make sure they're taken care of!

In Anne Arundel County, when they issue a Severe Weather Emergency (which is usually when warming centers open up for the humans) special attention needs to be taken with outdoor pets or you can be fined and your animal removed.  The fines are steep too - $125 to $1,000.  You can also be criminally prosecuted for abuse or neglect of an animal.  You can see the law here.

When the temperature drops below 20 degrees Fahrenheit, it’s best to keep all animals indoors except when exercising or relieving themselves. “Outdoor” dogs should have a dry, comfortable, draft-free doghouse large enough to allow the dog to sit and lie down, but small enough to hold in his body heat. The floor should be raised a few inches (at least 2 inches above any precipitation that would accumulate) off the ground and covered with abundant dry bedding. Pet stores carry safe heated floor mats and non-electric warm bedding 

The flap/door on the dog house that is constructed to prevent wind from blowing on the animal. If a flap is installed the dog must be able/trained to use the house with the flap. The entrances of dog houses be oriented away from prevailing winds. Waterproof burlap or heavy plastic work well.

A heated or insulated water bowl (please read/follow instructions carefully to avoid fires). Outside pets need access to water at all times and definitely not frozen water!  

If the temperature or wind chills are expected to be at or below 20 degrees Fahrenheit, all dogs should be brought indoors to an area that will not reach below 33 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Pets require more calories in lower temperatures because exercise is more strenuous and higher fuel intake helps your pet to maintain body temperature. So be sure they have access to adequate amounts of food.

Pets must have fresh water at all times. Check the water bowl regularly to ensure it’s full and unfrozen. Use a tip-proof bowl to keep Fido’s paws from freezing. And never use a metal water bowl— the tongue will stick to wet metal, and injury will result.  You could try a heated or insulated water bowl work (please read/follow instructions carefully to avoid fires). 

Pay attention to the Ice Melt you use for your driveways/sidewalks.  It will get on your dogs paws and irritate them. Once inside, they may lick their paws because they're irritated, ingesting the ice melt.  Most melts are made of either sodium chloride or calcium chloride.  When ingested non small amounts, it will cause gastrointestinal signs like hypersalivating, nausea and vomiting.  Ingesting large amounts can cause lethargy, weakness and even seizures. If you think your pet has been poisoned, ASPCA's Animal Poison Control Center is  888-426-4435 or you can take your pet to the Emergency Vet at 80 Bestgate.  Their number is 410-224-0331.

For most cases, as long as you use an old towel to wipe off paws when your pet comes inside you should be fine. If it looks like the paws are irritated, wash off with water.  They also sell a Pet Friendly Ice Melt.  It may be a little more than you'd usually pay, but well worth the peace of mind.

It sure seems like there's a lot of requirements, but think of it this way.  If it's too cold for you to be outside, it's too cold for them!  If you don't have a dog house that meets the standard, just bring your dog in.  They'll be grateful you did. 

Stay warm Annapolis and keep those furry friends safe too!