September 19, 2021


affection for others

Animal shelters fill up as Houston freezes. Here’s how to save pets

Just because dogs have fur coats doesn’t mean they can handle the cold.

“If it’s too cold for you, it’s too cold for dogs,” said Kerry McKeel, state communications strategist for Best Friends Animal Society. “Cats tend to be more resourceful in finding shelter — like in a car engine.” For that reason, McKeel suggest banging on your car hood if you park outside in cold temperatures.

As temps in my house dropped below 30 degrees earlier this week due to power outage, I assumed my dogs could handle the cold better than I could. But I noticed quickly that both dogs curled tightly into a ball, and one was shivering. I piled blankets on them to keep them warm. Thinner dogs tend to get cold quicker.

While dogs have a higher body temperature than we do, they can stay in below-freezing temperatures for only 15 to 20 minutes. Basically, it’s enough time to use the bathroom and roam a bit. If dogs are outside too long, they too can get hypothermia and frostbite.

The Harris County Animal Cruelty Task Force has been working to identify animals left out in the cold and prosecute the owners since it is against the law, McKeel said. Best Friends is working with city and county shelters to help identify needed resources, as well as to arrange transportation for homeless animals to other states so they can be adopted. While local adoption shelters are closed because of the winter storm, many are still taking in homeless animals.

“The concern is now next week when things go back to normal. Many of the shelters will be full. We’ll need community support to help with fostering and adopting,” McKeel said.

Best Friends recommends these ways to keep your dogs safe:

 Bring pets indoors when temperatures fall below freezing, 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Do not assume your pets can withstand cold temperatures because they have fur.

 If you cannot bring pets indoors, make sure to provide a weatherproof shelter that is insulated and retains heat. Consider placing straw on the floor bed to keep their fur warm from the cold ground. Never use a towel or blanket, as that trap the cold once it becomes wet.