With frigid weather coming to the Chicago area, Cook County officials are offering residents tips on how to keep their pets safe during the first cold snap of the season.
Temperatures in the area are expected to plunge into the teens to start the work week, and while plenty of residents know to bundle up and to limit their time outdoors, beloved pets need to rely on their owners to help keep them safe.
With that in mind, county officials are offering these tips for pet owners:
- Bring all pets indoors: All cats and dogs should be brought inside during cold weather.
- Beware of the impact of salt and ice: Salt and ice can irritate the footpads on an animal’s feet. If your dogs will tolerate them, put foot coverings on your animals for any time spent outdoors. If the dogs won’t tolerate them, then avoid salt when possible and wash your dog’s paws with warm water when you come back inside.
- Be careful of frostbite: Animals have fur coats, but the pads on their feet are susceptible to frostbite. Check pads when you bring your animal back inside, and wash sensitive areas with warm (but not hot) towels.
- Keep your dogs leashed: More pets become lost in winter than any other season because snow helps to mask familiar scents that can help them return home if they get lost.
- Daylight Savings Time’s end requires extra planning: With night coming earlier during the winter months, residents are advised to wear reflective clothing, and to use reflective leashes or collars, during the winter months.
- Be prepared: If power goes out during a long cold spell or a winter storm, your animal will need to eat and drink too. Be sure to keep a good supply of pet food, water, and medication on hand for such emergencies.
- Honk before starting your car: Animals have been known to curl up near engine blocks in cars in cold conditions. A honk before starting your vehicle can stir an animal and help keep them safe.
For more tips on how to keep yourself and your pets safe, and for information on warming centers in the Chicago area, visit the city’s emergency services website.