With freezing temperatures, consider the comfort of outdoor pets

Petplan, a pet insurance company, provides this guideline for when it is safest to keep a dog outside on its website. Larger dogs that are acclimated to cold tend to do better in colder temperatures than smaller dogs.

Temperatures are plunging into the low 20s this week, and some days, it won’t get warmer than the low 30s.

There is no law directly prohibiting keeping a pet outdoors when it is cold outside other than animal cruelty, which would be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. However, Edmonds Animal Control Ofcr. Tabatha Shoemake answered a few questions for My Edmonds News to explain what is legal and what is safe for outdoor pets.

MEN: Is cold weather dangerous to pets? How cold is too cold?
TS: Cold weather can be dangerous for pets. Because pets have different types of fur, there is no set temperature as too cold. If it’s too cold for you, it’s probably too cold for your pet.

MEN: What are some ways to help an outdoor dog feel comfortable in the extreme cold?
TS: All outdoor animals need a place to shelter them from the elements: clean, warm bedding; in extreme cold, it is best to provide heating; canine clothing such as a sweater or booties.

MEN: Is there a law against keeping a pet outdoors in the cold?
TS: There currently is no law against keeping a pet outdoors in cold weather as long as the pet has shelter, food and water.

MEN: What are signs of distress in a cold pet?
TS: A pet may be shivering, disoriented and show a lack of mental alertness.

MEN: What can a neighbor do if they are concerned for an outdoor animal?
TS: Call animal control.

MEN: What is the minimum and maximum punishment for a dog being left in the cold?
TS: Depending on the severity of neglect, the dog owner may receive a verbal warning to a maximum charge of animal cruelty in the first degree.

MEN: Anything else to add?
· Never leave your pet alone in a car during cold weather. A car can act as a refrigerator in cold weather, holding in the cold.
· Never shave your dog down to the skin in winter.
· If your pet spends most of its time outdoors, increase your pet’s food. They expend more energy to keep warm.

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