Dallas Animal Services is reminding pet owners that just because a dog has a thick fur coat, that doesn't mean it's safe for him or her to be outdoors in temperatures hovering around the freezing point.
Once actual or effective temperatures reach 32 degrees, Dallas requires all pets to have access to a warm, dry shelter.
"The law requires that pets have adequate shelter, but what is adequate during our typical 50-degree winter days is not adequate during the freezing weather we are facing now," Ed Jamison, director of Dallas Animal Services, said. "The safest option is to bring your pets indoors."
The city asked residents to call Dallas Animal Services at 3-1-1 if they see a pet they believe is in distress or is left outdoors without shelter in freezing conditions. DAS reminded residents to use their best judgement to determine if a pet is truly in distress.
"Don't be fooled by your pet's fur coat," Jamison said. "Even winter breeds with thick coats are at risk when temperatures reach freezing, particularly here in Texas where pets are not used to this type of weather."
The city of Dallas also sent out a list of reccomendations from the ASPCA on how to keep pets healthy during winter:
1. Towel dry your pet as soon as you come inside on cold, wet days to keep pets comfortable and avoid skin issues.
2. Avoid shaving your pet's fur short in winter months as this decreases their ability to stay warm.
3. Keep walks short during wet or icy days and consider massaging petroleum jelly into their paws before leaving the house to provide extra protection. Booties are another great option!
4. Pavement and cement are very cold in the winter, so walking on grass may be a more comfortable option.
5. Remember that antifreeze and many chemicals used to melt ice are toxic to pets and should be avoided when possible or kept out of reach.
6. Never leave a pet in a car during cold spells; cars can act as refrigerators and can cause pets to freeze to death or experience hypothermia.