Cold Weather Awareness

November 2, 2019

As the temperatures drop heading into our Wyoming winter, it’s important to be aware of how the cold affects our pets. Temperatures as high as 40 degrees Fahrenheit can be life-threatening under certain conditions, depending on the health status and age of your pet.

  1. The American Veterinarian Association provides the following tips and recommendations for small animals:
    Be aware of medical conditions that may be impacted by cold weather, such as arthritis.
  2. Know your pets’ limits: just like humans, pets’ cold tolerance can vary depending on their coat, body fat stores, activity level, age, and general health.
  3. Have their sleeping area at a comfortable temperature. Some animals thrive on cold temperatures (huskies) and are happy out in cooler weather, while some animals need more warmth, even a sweater/coat inside (Hairless Chinese Crested).
  4. No pet should be left outside for long periods of time in below-freezing weather, as they are susceptible to conditions like frostbite and hypothermia.
  5. If you can’t keep your pet inside, be sure to provide a warm, solid shelter off the ground with bedding. Also be sure there is water that has not frozen available.
  6. Cats have a reputation for climbing under car hoods to keep warm. Before you start your vehicle, bang on the hood or honk the horn to prevent a cat being killed when you start your engine.
  7. Leave them home: hot cars pose a danger to your pets, but cold cars can too.
  8. Clean up antifreeze spills as even small amounts can be deadly to your pet.
  9. Outdoor pets may require more calories, so talk to your veterinarian for guidance.

While some pets are better acclimated to cold than others, it’s helpful to know that State and City laws do not distinguish between breeds when it comes to protection from the weather. In fact, Cheyenne City ordinance 6.08.010 and State Statute 6-3-203 both define Animal Cruelty and address animals’ protection and suffering from adverse weather, being deprived of food and water without contamination issues, and the required care of a veterinarian when necessary.

If law enforcement or animal control officers discover an animal is exposed to life-threatening weather, they will typically attempt to contact the owner to take immediate corrective action. If the violation is serious enough, or the animal’s health is obviously in danger, the pet will be taken to the Cheyenne Animal Shelter for immediate veterinary care and the owner will be cited for Animal Cruelty. Penalties can be substantial, including permanent forfeiture of the animal, $750 fine and/or six months in jail, additional court costs, and other impositions such as the animal’s care and kennel costs until the case can be decided by a judge.

Winters in Wyoming can be harsh, so one good rule of thumb is this: if you’re cold, they’re cold.