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The original item was published from 12/16/2016 1:25:00 PM to 12/16/2016 2:28:52 PM.

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Posted on: December 16, 2016

[ARCHIVED] Winter Safety Tips for Pets


Tips to help keep your dogs or cat in cold weather

LARGO, MD – When the weather outside is frightful, your pets probably think so too and when temperatures drop, it can be dangerous to have them outside. The Prince George’s County Animal Management Division (AMD) recommends pet owners keep their animals indoors when it’s cold outside and closely monitor their exposure to winter elements.  

“If you notice a dog or cat that has been left outdoors for a long period of time or a pet owner violating County law, just like anything else if you see something, say something,” says AMD Chief Rodney Taylor. But if your pet must stay outdoors, County law requires you to provide the following protection:

·       A dog house of appropriate size that is dry, draft free and elevated off the ground;

·       A wind flap attached to the door of the dog house to keep cold air out and warm air in;

·       Non-absorbent bedding like straw or wood shavings to help keep the dog warm; and

·       Frequently check your pet’s drinking water to make sure it is not frozen and use a secured container to prevent tipping.

Other cold weather safety tips to keep pets healthy and happy:

  • Keep kittens and puppies under six months, and small or short-haired dogs inside;
  • Make sure pets don't have access to antifreeze, which is toxic but can taste sweet to cats and dog;
  • Increase your pet's protein to help keep the pet's fur healthy;
  • Don’t let your dog off its leash in the snow or ice; they can easily become lost when they are running loose;  
  • Never allow your pet to walk on icy ponds, even if they appear completely frozen over; 
  • Make sure your pet always wears ID tags and is microchipped;
  • Wipe or dry your pet’s feet, legs, and stomach when they come in out of the sleet, snow or ice. Consider dressing your pet in specially made coats or sweaters; some pet owners also use booties or other shoe-like foot protection; and
  • Never leave your pet in a closed car in the winter because cold cars become a refrigerator and put your pet at risk.

As for other animals that live outside such as horses and cattle, Taylor says there's probably no reason for passersby to be concerned about their welfare.

“Livestock tends to be pretty hearty and cattle and horses do get a pretty thick coat in the wintertime,” says Taylor. “All of those animals are fairly acclimated to cold weather and most farmers in this area know they need shelter and a heated water tank and to make sure those animals have access to fresh, unfrozen water.”

For more information about cold weather safety tips or if you’re searching for the perfect pet to keep warm in your home, contact the Animal Services Facility at (301) 780-7200 or visit

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