Keeping pets safe in blizzard

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Saturday, January 23, 2016

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Pets need special care to stay safe during the blizzard, even ones which normally stay outdoors.

At Mayor Jim Kenney's Friday news conference in Philadelphia, Managing Director Mike DeBerardinis reminded city residents that people who leave pets outside could be cited and fined up to $500.

The staff of Saint Francis Veterinary Center in Gloucester County, and the Penn Vet Ryan Animal Hospital are also advising ALL pet owners to give their companions extra care.

"In any storm event it is important to take the proper precautions for your pets the same as you would your family or your home," said Mark F. Magazu, DVM, in a news release.

Dr. Magazu urged owners to make sure they have several days' worth of pet food on hands, and, "That they have a warm safe place to ride out the storm with you."

The hospital also offered these tips:


Keep your cat inside. Outdoors, felines can freeze, become lost or be stolen, injured or killed.

During the winter, outdoor cats sometimes sleep under the hoods of cars. When the motor is started, the cat can be injured or killed by the fan belt. If there are outdoor cats in your area, bang loudly on the car hood before starting the engine to give the cat a chance to escape.


Never let your dog off the leash on snow or ice, especially during a snowstorm, dogs can lose their scent and easily become lost. More dogs are lost during the winter than during any other season, so make sure yours always wears ID tags.

Thoroughly wipe off your dog's legs and stomach when he comes in out of the sleet, snow or ice. He can ingest salt, antifreeze or other potentially dangerous chemicals while licking his paws, and his paw pads may also bleed from snow or encrusted ice.

Own a short-haired or small breed?

Consider a coat or sweater with a high collar or turtleneck with coverage from the base of the tail to the belly. Even for many larger dogs, this is regulation winter wear.

Owners of older or overweight dogs should be especially careful when they are being walked on slippery surfaces.

When shoveling snow, keep dogs away. Many dogs like to jump at the snow as it flies from the shovel.

However, in their exuberance, they may run into the sharp edge of the shovel and get cut.

Never shave your dog down to the skin in winter, as a longer coat will provide more warmth. When you bathe your dog in the colder months, be sure to completely dry him before taking him out for a walk.

Puppies do not tolerate the cold as well as adult dogs, and may be difficult to housebreak during the winter.

If your puppy appears to be sensitive to the weather, opt to paper-train him inside. If your dog is sensitive to the cold due to age, illness or breed type, take him outdoors only to relieve himself.

And clear a spot for pets to relieve themselves. Some small breeds won't go in high snow.

Does your dog spend a lot of time engaged in outdoor activities? Increase his supply of food, particularly protein, to keep him, and his fur, in tip-top shape.

Also, keep all dogs and cats away from antifreeze. They may be attracted to its sweet taste, but it is deadly to all pets.

Be sure to thoroughly clean up any spills from your vehicle, and consider using products that contain propylene glycol rather than ethylene glycol. Visit the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center more information.

Never leave your dog or cat along in a car during cold weather.

Just as a car can become an oven in summer, it can become a refrigerator in the winter, holding in cold and causing the animal to freeze to death.

Make sure your pets have a warm place to sleep, off the floor and away from all drafts.

If your dog spends a lot of time outdoor, whether it's play or work, increase his food supply, particularly protein, to keep his muscles and fur in good condition.

St. Francis will be in full operation during the storm with independent on-site electrical power, to help pet owners through situations.

If you have a pet emergency, call the hospital's emergency line at 856-467-0050.