How to Keep Your Pets Safe During the Coming Blizzard

Couple with dog by fire
Keep your pets safe and warm indoors during the blizzard, Photo: HONGQI ZHANG/123RF

In preparation for the coming blizzard on Long Island—with snow accumulating between 12–20 inches from midnight tonight to midnight Tuesday night—Suffolk County SPCA is asking residents to take care of their pets. “Your pets are part of your family and planning for them is important,” the organization writes, adding, “Adverse weather conditions require action from pet owners.”

Cold weather can be as dangerous for pets as it is for humans, but pets have a more difficult time regulating their body temperatures and may be more susceptible to problems from extreme temperatures, but the SPCA has some tips to make sure your animals remain safe and warm over the next couple days.

Keep your pets indoors during this snowstorm.
This should be obvious. If left unattended outdoors dogs and cats can get frostbite or become disorientated and freeze to death. Hypothermia can result from extended exposure to cold and is life-threatening condition. Be Alert to Frostbite: Skin can turn red, white or gray and scaly. If you suspect frostbite, contact your vet immediately.

Be aware of exposure time.
Dogs who are ill, old, very young or shorthaired cannot endure prolonged exposure to winter weather. Take them out only to go to the bathroom. Many dogs need boots in winter weather, regardless of coat length. If your dog frequently lifts up his paws, whines or stops on his walks, his feet are uncomfortably cold and may need dog booties.

Remember to clean your pet’s feet.
Salt can irritate or burn, as well as cause vomiting and, in some pets, seizures. Antifreeze has a sweet, attractive smell to pets and can be deadly if ingested.

Prepare for the unexpected.
Be ready to evacuate if necessary. Have essential supplies ready to “grab and go.” Know where to find temporary housing for you and your pet. Make sure that your pet can be identified. Your pet should always wear his or her ID collar and rabies tag. In the event that you must evacuate, take care of your pet. Never leave your pet behind. He/she may become lost, injured-or worse. Leaving you pet outside can jeopardize his or her life.

Have a plan for where to stay in advance.
Consider friends and relatives outside your local area. Check for pet friendly shelters in Suffolk County, such as the ones listed here. Look for hotels and motels that allow pets. You can use a site like for a listing of pet-friendly options, but do it now in case you lose power later.

Create a pet emergency supply kit.
Pack basic supplies, including food, medication, flashlight, food and water bowls, can opener, cage or carrier, extra collar, litter box, plastic trash bags, wee wee pads and anything else essential for your pet. Bring important records including recent photo of your pet, contact information, microchip information and updated veterinary information.

In the case of severe damage to your home, one must also consider a long-term plan, which often works best with friends or family outside the area.

Remember, be informed and ready to act in the event of a disaster and you and your pets will be better for it.

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