SPCA Wake Reminds Pet Owners the Life-Saving Importance of Cold Weather Safety

Dogs. Source: Samantha Ranlet, SPCA Wake
Dogs. Source: Samantha Ranlet, SPCA Wake

With below-freezing temperatures on the way for the Triangle area and across North Carolina, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals of Wake County (SPCA Wake) is urging pet owners to bring pets inside or ensure they are properly housed and protected from the life-threatening cold.

Many people may not realize low temperatures aren’t just dangerous for humans. Cats and dogs are also susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia, so as the temperature drops into the low 20’s in the following days, it’s important to keep pet safety in mind.

In a recent winter season, SPCA Wake took in an emergency rescue of a litter of puppies with their mother dog, all found outside in freezing temperatures. The puppies were so cold their temperatures didn’t register on the thermometer, and without intervention the family of dogs would not have survived. Fortunately, the family was rescued in time to be warmed up and rehabilitated, but sadly their story is not unique.

If it’s too cold for you to stay comfortably outside for a period of time, it’s too cold for pets,” says SPCA Wake Medical Director Dr. Jennifer Bledsoe-Nix.

The best way to protect your pet from winter weather is to bring him/her indoors, taking dogs outside for short trips to relieve themselves.

“Below-freezing temperatures are extremely dangerous to pets without shelter or protection,” adds Dr. Bledsoe-Nix. “Pets can suffer from hypothermia, frostbite, or other major health problems, and if their water bowl freezes over they can become dangerously dehydrated. Without help from their owners, pets left outside may be seriously hurt or even die, and we don’t want that to happen,” she adds.

Here are a few things to remember to help pets stay safe during winter weather:

  • If bringing a pet inside is not a possibility, make sure they have an insulated, covered shelter with warm, dry bedding like hay or straw. The shelter should block the wind and be off the ground a bit. It’s important to note that blankets and fleece are not effective insulation because they don’t create any air pockets.
  • As always, your pet needs access to fresh water. In the winter, this means changing the water frequently or using a pet-safe, heated water bowl to keep the water from freezing. Licking frozen-over water will not keep a pet properly hydrated.
  • When dogs come back inside after a walk, be sure to wipe their paws. Salt and other chemicals used to treat roads can burn paw pads and be harmful if ingested.
  • Raleigh law requires that animals have food, water and shelter. If you see an animal you believe does not have these essentials or may be in great danger, please contact your local Animal Control agency.

North Carolina may not see feet of snow each winter, but these temperatures are not to be taken lightly and can be fatal for animals left outside without shelter. Steps should be taken to ensure pets’ health and safety as the temperatures drop.

About the SPCA of Wake County

The SPCA of Wake County serves the central region of NC, actively working in 54 NC counties through collaborative partnerships that save pets and help people. Significant activities include: Decreasing the number of animals entering animal shelters, increasing the number of animals leaving these shelters, and changing the hearts and minds of our community to value all companion animals.  Our mission is to transform the lives of pets and people through protection, care, education, and adoption. Our vision is to create a humane community.


Source: Samantha Ranlet, SPCA Wake

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