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Pet Winter Safety Tips
 
Keep your pets 
safe this winter

Winter is brutal on everyone, including our four-legged friends.  Cold weather brings the more likely potential of illness or injury for humans and animals alike. Keep your pets in mind this winter with a few tips from the McLean County Animal Control.


 snow dog
 
  • Do not leave dogs or cats outdoors during harsh winter weather or when the temperature drops to dangerous levels. Wind chill can be more life-threatening than the actual temperature, so be sure to provide adequate shelter. Shelter should face away from the wind and be raised a few inches off the ground. The wind-repellant shelter should be large enough to allow the animal to sit and lie down, but small enough to maintain its body heat. Cover the doorway with a water-proof covering.
  • Provide more food to outside animals because staying warm takes more energy. If the animal is outside, provide its food and water in plastic bowls, because its tongue can stick or even freeze to metal surfaces. Also, check the animal’s water supply often to be sure it doesn’t freeze. 
  • Take short, frequent trips outside during harsh winter weather to provide potty breaks and exercise. Remember, while you have a coat and boots on, your pet does not. Bring them in on the first sign of a shiver.
  • Wipe paws with damp cloth to alleviate salt buildup on paws. Salted sidewalks make it safer to walk, but can irritate your pet’s paws.  Always wipe paws when coming in from outside, before the animal has time to ingest the salt and irritate its mouth.  At home, you can use a pet-friendly ice melt for driveways, walking paths and sidewalks.
  • Don’t leave pets in vehicles during hot or cold weather.
  • Keep animals away from antifreeze. Antifreeze tastes sweet to pets, but is extremely poisonous. Keep antifreeze stored high on shelves and clean up spills for leaks from your vehicle immediately. Antifreeze can also found in imported snow globes, so keep those away from animals, too.
  • Reduce pet illness over the holidays by reducing decorations and keep them away from holiday treats that pose a danger. Tinsel can prove deadly if ingested by cats. Holiday plants—such as holly, mistletoe or lilies — can also be toxic to pets.
  • Don’t share your holiday treats or fatty leftovers with your pets, no matter how much they beg. Chocolate is highly toxic to dogs and cats, and fatty meat scraps may produce severe pancreas inflammation.

If your pet experiences weather-related ailment or discomfort, contact your veterinarian or Animal Emergency Clinic LLC after hours by calling 309-665-5020. If you have a humane concern to report, contact the Humane Society of Central Illinois at 309-451-1000.

The McLean County Animal Control Center is on Morris Avenue, 3 miles south of Bloomington. Adoption hours are from 9:00 a.m. to 4 p.m. Animal Control would also like to remind residents that all pets 4 months of age or older are required by state law and county ordinance to be vaccinated for rabies. Pet owners are encouraged to spay and neuter their pets, for which the McLean County Pet Population Control Fund is available to assist. For more information on the spay/neuter program or animals available for adoption, call the Animal Control Center at (309) 888-5060.

Other online resources:

More winter holiday pet poison dangers

How to keep water from freezing for outside animals 

How to winterize a doghouse