Chicago is bracing to break its record for the coldest temperature ever documented on Wednesday and Thursday. Residents are being warned to wear lots of layers, limit their exposed skin and avoid venturing outdoors completely if possible.
For Chicago’s many dog and cat owners, the cold snap poses some serious safety concerns for their beloved pets, too.
To make sure pets stay safe during this brutal cold front, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has some tips:
1. If it’s unsafe for you to go outside, it’s probably unsafe for your pet too. Freezing cold temperatures can make pets disoriented and lost. During the cold snap, limit your pets’ time outdoors.
2. If you have to take your pet outside, make sure to bundle up with a coat or sweater. Booties not only keep your pet warm, they prevent salt, sand and chemicals from irritating your pet’s paws. If you don’t have booties, wash and dry your dog’s feet after walks.
3. A warm bath might seem like a great way to heat up a shivering pet, but you should bathe your pets as little as possible during a cold snap. Washing your pet increases its risk of dry, itchy skin.
4. Don’t shave your dog or cat; the extra fur keeps them warm. Trimming dogs’ fur to keep ice balls, salt and other chemicals off their coat is fine.
5. When it’s really cold outside, pets burn more calories, so putting a little extra food in the dog bowl can be helpful. And make sure you pets drink a lot of water to keep their skin from getting too dry.
6. Never leave your pet in the car alone. Cars can trap cold in and cause your pet to freeze to death.
Your pets aren’t the only animals you can help as the cold moves in, according to PETA. By filling a heavy, nonmetal bowl with water, you can help birds, squirrels, rabbits and other animals survive the brutal temperatures. Make sure to break the water’s surface a few times per day.