Temperatures will fall in Portland next week, is your pet prepared?


“If it’s too cold for you, it’s too cold for your pets.”

Credit: Oregon Humane Society

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — With an arctic blast in the forecast next week, DoveLewis Emergency Animal Hospital has some tips for pet owners to keep their animals safe during frigid temperatures.

DoveLewis Chief Medical Officer Shana O’Marra said pet owners should take extra precautions for pets as they would for themselves during frigid temperatures. O’Marra suggests bringing in outside cats ahead of the cold temperatures to limit their exposure to the elements.

She noted that walking on icy or snowy surfaces can also cause some irritation for pets.

“Definitely any kind of salt products, even the pet safe ones can be irritating,” said O’Marra. “So, when you bring your dog inside after a walk, it’s a good idea to wash off their paws and dry them.”

What can you do now to prepare?

The animal hospital suggests having a shovel ready to clear a path for your dog to walk or do any other business. If you’re bringing cats inside, invest in another litter box and a comfortable environment for them to hide if you’re having company over, O’Marra added.

During cold temperatures next week, people may also see unsupervised animals but O’Marra said the best thing to do is to contact your local animal control for guidance.

“Danger signs to watch for in any animal – hypothermia can be really subtle. Things that you’re looking for are lethargy, if they’re not interactive,” she said. “If they’re walking slowly while you’re out on a walk with them, or they just don’t have their usual personality, that’s a sign that you should go inside, warm up and do what you can to return to a more normal environment.”

With snow in the forecast, PGE has also warned customers of possible outages, which would impact people and their pets.

 O’Marra said there are pet-friendly warming stations that the city will open but be aware of portable heaters inside your home because cats love to tip objects over.

“If it’s too cold for you, it’s too cold for your pets,” she added.

According to the American Veterinarian Association, cold weather may worsen some medical conditions, such as arthritis. The association suggests getting your pet checked out by a veterinarian, so the animal is healthy as possible for cold weather.

“You will probably need to shorten your dog’s walks in very cold weather to protect you both from weather-associated health risks,” the association said on its website. “Arthritic and elderly pets may have more difficulty walking on snow and ice and may be more prone to slipping and falling. Long-haired or thick-coated dogs tend to be more cold-tolerant but are still at risk in cold weather.”

“Pets with diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, or hormonal imbalances (such as Cushing’s disease) may have a harder time regulating their body temperature and may be more susceptible to problems from temperature extremes,” said the organization.

The organization added that short-haired pets feel the cold faster because they have less protection, and short-legged pets may become cold faster because their bellies and bodies are more likely to come into contact with snow-covered ground.

What about livestock?

Multnomah County Animal Services officials say livestock animals need protection too.

While some livestock may be able to withstand colder temperatures, structured shelter out of the elements is critical to health and wellness. Officials suggest dry bedding and proper ventilation to offer protection.

“Like companion pets, livestock with health conditions are more vulnerable to inclement weather. This includes animals that may be pregnant,” the county noted. “Check in with your veterinarian for animals that may need more attention during cold weather.”

Ensure access to water — specifically fresh, unfrozen water, added officials.

Under adequate shelter laws, owners must provide a barn, doghouse or other enclosed structure sufficient to protect a domestic animal from wind, rain, snow or sun that has adequate bedding to protect against cold and dampness. It must also protect the domestic animal from weather and physical injury.

The county has examples of adequate and inadequate shelter here.

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