Pet Safety Tips

Dangers of Leaving Your Pet in a Parked Car

"On a hot day, a parked car can become a furnace in no time-even with the windows open-which could lead to fatal heat stroke," says Dr. Louise Murray, Director of Medicine at the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASCPA) Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital.

Never leave your animals alone in a parked vehicle. Also, leaving pets unattended in cars in extreme weather is illegal in several states.

Protect Your Pet in the Winter

In many parts of the country, winter is a season of bitter cold and numbing wetness. Help your pets remain happy and healthy during the colder months.

  • Do not leave dogs 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. Most dogs, and all cats, are safer if kept indoors, except when taken out for exercise. Short-coated dogs may feel more comfortable wearing a sweater during walks.
  • No matter what the temperature, wind chill can threaten a pet's life. A dog or cat is happiest and healthiest when kept indoors. If your dog is an outdoor dog, however, he/she must be protected by a draft-free doghouse that is large enough to allow the dog to sit and lie down comfortably but small enough to hold in his/her body heat. The floor should be raised a few inches off the ground and covered with cedar shavings. The house should be turned to face away from the wind, and the doorway should be covered with burlap or a rug.
  • Outdoor dogs need more food in the winter because keeping warm depletes energy. Routinely check your dog's water dish to be sure the water is fresh and unfrozen. Use plastic food and water bowls rather than metal: when the temperature is low, your dog's tongue can stick and freeze to metal.
  • Warm engines in parked cars attract cats and small wildlife, who may crawl up under the hood. To avoid injuring any hidden animals, bang on your car's hood to scare them away before starting your engine.
  • The salt and other chemicals used to melt snow and ice can burn the pads of your pet's feet. Wipe the feet with a damp towel before your pet licks them and burns his/her mouth.
  • Antifreeze is a deadly poison, but it has a sweet taste that may attract animals and children. Wipe up spills, and store antifreeze and all household chemicals out of reach. Better yet, use antifreeze that is non-toxic and, if swallowed, will not hurt pets, wildlife, or your family.
  • Dry heat can dry out your pet's skin and make him/her itchy and uncomfortable. A small amount of vegetable oil in your pet's food will help keep him/her comfortable.

Although we believe dogs should live inside with you and your family, The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has doghouse plans available for 25 cents a copy (Order Number GR3046). Make out your check or money order to the HSUS and mail it to the address below:

The Humane Society of the United States
2100 L Street NW
Washington, DC 20037