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DOG / health & care

When a Blizzard blasts through, be ready

Pet Emergency Preparedness

Temperatures plummet and gusts of wind bring flurries of frigid sleet. You and your family batten down the hatches and wait safely inside for a blizzard to roll through — but what about your pet?

KEEP YOUR PET INDOORS DURING BLIZZARDS.

Despite their fluffy appearance, domestic cats and dogs can’t withstand extreme cold weather. Small dogs, short-haired breeds and elderly pets are particularly susceptible to cold weather.

Below are tips and supplies to help keep your pet warm and avoid frostbite, hypothermia and other winter issues.

Pet emergency supplies

A pet emergency preparedness kit should have the supplies below to help keep your pet fed, warm and secure during a blizzard.

Checklist:

FOR IDENTIFICATION:

  • pet tag with your cell phone number
  • vaccination/medical records
  • veterinary contact information
  • a current photo of your pet

FOR COLD WEATHER:

FOR TRANSPORT:

FOOD:

  • 1 week supply of food (in waterproof container)
  • bottled water
  • portable food & water bowls
  • collar (with up to date tag information)
  • manual can opener (if using canned food)
  • list of feeding routine & behavioral needs/considerations

GENERAL CARE:

Weather the storm together

A blizzard is a winter storm with winds in excess of 35 miles per hour. That means people and pets should stay safely indoors and wait out the storm. If you have more than one pet, consider keeping them separated, even if they usually get along. Storms and anxiety can cause pets to behave unpredictably.

In addition to the supplies above, get enough food and water to last your family and your pet about a week (in case of power outages). Limit your pet’s time outside to potty breaks and do not let them off leash. Snow hides familiar scents, which can disorient pets and cause them to get lost.

Outdoor Shelter

Experts do not recommend leaving pets outside during winter storms or extreme cold weather. If for some reason you are unable to bring your pet indoors, provide a warm, dry shelter. The American Veterinary Medical Association recommends a solid shelter that protects against the wind. Make sure the floor of the shelter is elevated and provide thick, warm bedding. (Change bedding often to keep pets dry.)

Fuel for warmth

Some pet parents feed their pets extra food to help them gain a little winter padding. (The common misconception is that this helps protect pets from the cold). While some outdoor pets may indeed require more calories to help them stay warm in the winter, always consult a veterinarian before making nutritional changes due to cold weather.

Pet Emergency Preparedness Resources

American Veterinary Medical Association
American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals® (ASPCA®)
The American Red Cross
The Humane Society of the United States