Whether you believe in global climate change or not, your pets don’t care – they just want to be cool in summer and warm in winter.

And with freezing temperatures hitting Guilford County earlier than usual this year, the Guilford County Animal Services Department is trying to warn all pet owners in the county to protect pets from those icy cold temperatures.

The National Weather Service issued a Freeze Warning for Guilford County for Wednesday night, Oct. 19.  Usually, the first one for this area comes around Halloween.   The early cold weather caused Guilford County Animal Services to remind all pet owners to be sure to protect their dogs, cats and other pets from the elements.

“If it’s too cold for you, it’s too cold for your pets,” the press release states – though that might not be the case for those who have, say, a pet polar bear or pet penguin.  However, the point is well taken: Most animals need protection from the cold.

In the release, the  Humane Society and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals offer these tips for cold-weather pet care:

  • Keep your pets inside with you when the weather turns cold. If dogs are outside much of the day, they need to be protected by “a dry, draft-free shelter that is large enough to allow them to move comfortably, but small enough to hold body heat.” Also, the floor of the shelter should be raised a few inches off the ground and covered with cedar shavings. Don’t use blankets or towels since they hold moisture. The doorway should be covered with waterproof burlap or heavy plastic. This same housing advice goes for outdoor cats as well.
  • Pets that spend a lot of time outdoors in cold weather need more food than others because keeping warm burns calories and depletes energy.
  • Use plastic food and water bowls. That’s because, when it’s cold, your pet’s tongue can stick and freeze to metal. Check your pet’s water bowl throughout the day to make sure the water hasn’t turned into ice.
  • Put a water-resistant coat on your dog when it’s outside, or a sweater when going for walks. This may be embarrassing for the animal but it’s particularly important for pets with thin coats such as chihuahuas or pit bulls.
  • Rock salt and other chemicals used to melt snow and ice can irritate the pads of your pet’s feet. Wipe all paws with a damp towel before your pet licks them. Dogs are also at risk of salt poisoning from rock salt.
  • Here’s a tip to help all wildlife: “Cars are a hazard to pets and wildlife. They can be drawn into the engine area when it’s warm, to seek comfort. Before starting your car, bang on the hood to scare the animal out.”
  • Antifreeze is deadly to animals and it’s sweet taste attracts them. So, wipe up any spills immediately and keep containers well away from animals.
  • Be nice about it at first If you see a pet left out in the cold. Politely tell the owner that you’re concerned. Many people simply don’t realize their pet isn’t able to handle cold weather. If the owner doesn’t take the needed steps to protect their pet, call Guilford County Animal Control at 336-641-5990 and an officer will be dispatched to check on the pet’s welfare.