Extreme Cold Deadly for Pets

Education, Rescue News / Thursday, February 19th, 2015


Cold weather can be deadly for your pet. If left outside during severe temperatures and wind chills, they can develop hypothermia, frostbite, and even death can occur. This week, the Preston County Animal Shelter took in a cat found by the Masontown Police while on patrol. She was covered in snow, half frozen and very weak. Sadly she didn’t survive, and worse, it was completely preventable.

Some pet owners have a false notion that because their animal has a “fur coat” they can withstand colder temperatures. It’s a fact that without proper shelter, food and water, cats and dogs cannot survive in extreme conditions any better than humans can.  Domesticated animals do not have the same survival skills that their wild counterparts do to survive cold winter conditions.

In West Virginia it’s a misdemeanor to leave an animal outside in extreme temperatures. State Code 61-8-19 states you cannot withhold “shelter that protects from the elements of weather.” Those found guilty face a $300 fine and up to six months in jail.

So what should you do?

  • Keep your pets INDOORS and WARM.

If you have a stray or feral animal that you are unable to bring indoors, you can:

  • Provide dry, draft-free shelter filled with straw and entrance covering. It must be large enough to sit, turn-around and lie down in, but small enough to hold in the animal’s body heat.
  • Provide extra food (staying warm depletes energy). Provide plenty of water and check regularly for freezing, or purchase a heated water bowl. (Your pet consuming snow is not a healthy form of hydration.)
  • Report any pet owners that have left pets outdoors without adequate shelter, food, or water to your County Sheriff’s Office.
  • Help strays and feral cats with inexpensive shelter options. For easy building instructions, click here


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