UPDATE: Bring all pets indoors, insulate outdoor shelters, fill with hay
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Animal Charity Human Society is urging pet and animal owners to bring all their animals indoors, even if they are primarily outside pets.
Animals are at risk in the region's current frigid weather and will continue to be over the coming days.
The agency is distributing free hay to keep dogs warm in outdoor shelters. Workers will also be doing wellness checks to ensure the safety of pets that are stuck outside.
Owners are reminded that all animals must have shelter as well as food and (unfrozen) water available at all times. Animals found without any of those can subject the owners to prosecution.
Although animal coats appears warm, it’s not enough to protect them when the temperatures dip to the frigid lows forecast over the next few days.
“If it’s cold for you, it’s cold for them,” said Diane Less, co-founder of Angels for Animals, an animal shelter and adoption center in Beaver Township.
Bringing pets indoors during cold weather provides the best protection.
If that isn’t an option, an insulated shelter with hay or straw for bedding can help shield pets from the cold.
A dog house with just plastic covering the door will keep the wind and snow off of the animal, but it won’t guard against the cold.
To provide that insulation, Less says furniture pads wrapped around the dog house and then wrapped with a tarp can offer that extra layer of warmth.
The shelter for the pet should be small to enable the animal to retain its body heat inside, she said.
“What’s great for cats is those disposable Styrofoam coolers like Omaha Steaks come in,” Less said.
Hay or straw should be used for bedding, not a blanket.
“If it gets wet, water goes through the hay or straw,” she said. “A blanket freezes and just becomes a block of ice.”
A dog or cat can also burrow into straw for warmth, Less said.