Cold winter weather presents challenges to those who love and care for cats and dogs.  RGV Animal Control Departments and Animal shelters want to make sure you take extra precautions during this cold snap to keep your four-footed family members safe and warm. Help your pets remain happy and healthy during the colder months by following these simple guidelines:

Keep pets indoors and warm

Don’t leave dogs or cats outdoors when the temperature drops. Regardless of the season, short-haired, very young or old dogs – and all cats – should never be left outside without supervision. Dogs and cats are safer indoors, except when taken out for exercise.

No matter what the temperature is, wind chill can threaten a pet’s life. Pets are sensitive to severe cold and are at risk for frostbite and hypothermia when they are outdoors during extreme cold snaps. Exposed skin on noses, ears and paw pads can quickly freeze and suffer permanent damage. Never leave your dog or cat alone in a car during cold weather. A car can act as a refrigerator in the winter, holding in the cold and causing the animal to freeze.

Give your pets plenty of water

Pets that spend a lot of time outdoors need more food in the winter because keeping warm depletes energy. Routinely check your pet’s water dish to make certain the water is fresh and unfrozen. Use plastic food and water bowls rather than metal to keep your pet’s tongue from sticking and freezing to metal.

Be Prepared

If power goes out during a long cold spell or a winter storm, your animal will need to eat and drink too. Be sure to keep a good supply of pet food, water, and medication on hand for such emergencies.

Honk before starting your car

Animals have been known to curl up near engine blocks in cars in cold conditions. A honk before starting your vehicle can stir an animal and help keep them safe.