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Pet Owners Advised to Prepare for Dangerous Winter Temperatures

As winter temperatures dip into the teens across Texas, the Austin Humane Society is encouraging pet owners to take immediate precautions. Extreme cold temperatures present great danger to pets, particularly those left outside. 

“When animals are faced with bitter cold winter temperatures, they can suffer without showing extreme symptoms,” says Dr. Katie Luke, Austin Humane Society Chief Veterinarian. “Please keep your pets inside tonight if you can. And be sure they have access to unfrozen water when outside.” 

With temperatures forecasted to reach into the teens Tuesday morning, AHS is asking you to help spread these tips to keep animals safe and warm.

  • Keep your pets inside. Texas pets are used to extreme summer temps, not winter freezes.
  • Make sure outside pets have a warm place to sleep. Keep them off the cold ground and away from the wind. A cozy pet house, complete with a roof and four walls, is essential.
  • Consider dressing your pet in a coat or sweater. Choose pet clothing that covers the neck, shoulders, back, belly and base of the tail. Pet booties work as well.
  • Provide access to fresh water. Check bowls to make sure the water has not frozen over.
  • Active pets need more food. Increase their supply of food. Calories help keep them warm.
  • Beware of hidden cats. Outdoor cats will sleep under the hoods of cars to keep warm. Bang loudly on the car hood before starting the engine. It will help give the cat a chance to escape. 
  • Exposed cold surfaces can freeze paws. When walking, try to stay on the grass.
  • Thoroughly wipe down your pets. They can ingest salt, antifreeze or other potentially dangerous chemicals while licking their paws.
  • Antifreeze is lethal to dogs and cats. If you suspect your pet has ingested something toxic, call your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435.

Baby, It's Cold Outside

It's freezing outside, which means it's far too cold for pets to be left outdoors! In fact, AHS recommends that all pets be brought indoors when temperatures hit 45 degrees. So what should you do if you see animals left outside in this weather? Report it: call 3-1-1 immediately and report the situation. You could save a life!

In Texas, it is consider animal cruelty to leave a pet outdoors in cold weather without proper shelter and food and water that is not frozen. Shelter is defined as an area that shields them from the elements on all sides, with room to stand up and turn around in comfortably, but is not so large that it cannot retain heat and must have warm bedding. For multiple pet households, each outdoor pet must have their own outdoor shelter. 

Keep your eyes open and if you see something that makes you uncomfortable, please call 3-1-1 to report it. Together we can save lives and end animal abuse!

Holiday Pet Safety Tips

Keep your pets safe this holiday season by following the tips in this great article from the ASPCA!

Holly, Jolly and Oh-So-Safe! Of course you want to include your furry companions in the festivities, pet parents, but as you celebrate this holiday season, try to keep your pet's eating and exercise habits as close to their normal routine as possible. And be sure to steer them clear of the following unhealthy treats, toxic plants and dangerous decorations:

O Christmas Tree Securely anchor your Christmas tree so it doesn't tip and fall, causing possible injury to your pet. This will also prevent the tree water—which may contain fertilizers that can cause stomach upset—from spilling. Stagnant tree water is a breeding ground for bacteria and your pet could end up with nausea or diarrhea should he imbibe.

Tinsel-less Town 
Kitties love this sparkly, light-catching "toy" that's easy to bat around and carry in their mouths. But a nibble can lead to a swallow, which can lead to an obstructed digestive tract, severe vomiting, dehydration and possible surgery. It's best to brighten your boughs with something other than tinsel.

No Feasting for the Furries 
By now you know not to feed your pets chocolate and anything sweetened with xylitol, but do you know the lengths to which an enterprising fur kid will go to chomp on something yummy? Make sure to keep your pets away from the table and unattended plates of food, and be sure to secure the lids on garbage cans.

Toy Joy 
Looking to stuff your pet's stockings? Choose gifts that are safe. 

  • Dogs have been known to tear their toys apart and swallowing the pieces, which can then become lodged in the esophagus, stomach or intestines. Stick with chew toys that are basically indestructible, Kongs that can be stuffed with healthy foods or chew treats that are designed to be safely digestible. 
  • Long, stringy things are a feline's dream, but the most risky toys for cats involve ribbon, yarn and loose little parts that can get stuck in the intestines, often necessitating surgery. Surprise kitty with a new ball that's too big to swallow, a stuffed catnip toy or the interactive cat dancer—and tons of play sessions together.

Forget the Mistletoe & Holly 
Holly, when ingested, can cause pets to suffer nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Mistletoe can cause gastrointestinal upset and cardiovascular problems. And many varieties of lilies, can cause kidney failure in cats if ingested. Opt for just-as-jolly artificial plants made from silk or plastic, or choose a pet-safe bouquet.

Leave the Leftovers 
Fatty, spicy and no-no human foods, as well as bones, should not be fed to your furry friends. Pets can join the festivities in other fun ways that won't lead to costly medical bills.

That Holiday Glow 
Don't leave lighted candles unattended. Pets may burn themselves or cause a fire if they knock candles over. Be sure to use appropriate candle holders, placed on a stable surface. And if you leave the room, put the candle out!

Wired Up 
Keep wires, batteries and glass or plastic ornaments out of paws' reach. A wire can deliver a potentially lethal electrical shock and a punctured battery can cause burns to the mouth and esophagus, while shards of breakable ornaments can damage your pet's mouth.

House Rules 
If your animal-loving guests would like to give your pets a little extra attention and exercise while you're busy tending to the party, ask them to feel free to start a nice play or petting session.

Put the Meds Away 
Make sure all of your medications are locked behind secure doors, and be sure to tell your guests to keep their meds zipped up and packed away, too.

Careful with Cocktails 
If your celebration includes adult holiday beverages, be sure to place your unattended alcoholic drinks where pets cannot get to them. If ingested, your pet could become weak, ill and may even go into a coma, possibly resulting in death from respiratory failure.

A Room of Their Own 
Give your pet his own quiet space to retreat to—complete with fresh water and a place to snuggle. Shy pups and cats might want to hide out under a piece of furniture, in their carrying case or in a separate room away from the hubbub.

New Year's Noise 
As you count down to the new year, please keep in mind that strings of thrown confetti can get lodged in a cat's intestines, if ingested, perhaps necessitating surgery. Noisy poppers can terrify pets and cause possible damage to sensitive ears.