ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — This winter, pet owners who don’t supply an outside dog with an insulated dog house face a $500 ticket, a court appearance and 90 days in jail.

The Albuquerque Animal Welfare Department urges pet owners to take winter precautions to keep pets cozy no matter what the winter throws our way.  And that isn’t a request.  Refusal to provide an outside pet with an insulated dog house will result in a citation, a court appearance, a $500 ticket and potentially 90 days in jail.

It’s a common misconception that dogs and cats won’t get cold because of their fur. If you are cold, your companion animal is cold. Most domestic cats and dogs are not well equipped for cold weather and can easily be susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia.

Anyone who sees a dog is outside without protection from the elements should immediately report the violation to ABQ Animal Welfare by calling 311.

For residents of Bernalillo County and the City of Albuquerque, free straw bedding is being made available, while supplies last, through the partnership with Bernalillo County Animal Care Services and Albuquerque Animal Welfare.

• Bernalillo County Animal Care Services, (505) 314-0280

• Albuquerque Animal Welfare, 311 (768-2000)

Signs of Hypothermia:

  • Uncontrollable shivering
  • Decreased heartbeat and weak pulse
  • Stiff muscles
  • Lack of coordination
  • Pale or blue gums

If your companion animal shows any of these signs seek immediate veterinary attention.

If your companion animal must remain outside, straw is an inexpensive insulator that makes excellent bedding. It retains the animal’s heat and evaporates moisture. Hay does not maintain these qualities. To use straw effectively, place a thick layer on the floor of your animal’s shelter. Check the straw periodically for moisture and cleanliness. Switch it out when needed.

The best place for any companion animal is inside your home. If at all possible, animals should be moved inside, especially during cold weather.

More Winter Tips:

  • Check your companion animal’s water bowl frequently for freezing. Consider purchasing a heater. Glass and ceramic dishes will crack and break when the water freezes.
  • Companion animals kept primarily outdoors, especially in cold weather, may require more food than other animals. Provide additional food to animals who spend a lot of time outside.
  • Don’t leave an animal in a closed car in the winter. A car becomes a refrigerator and the temperature can be just as deadly as those in the summer.
  • Keep anti-freeze away from any animal or child’s reach. Both are attracted by its sweet taste and ethylene glycol is highly poisonous.
  • Be aware if your animal has walked on salted or de-iced surfaces. They will lick their paws and the substances are toxic. Rinse their paws in warm water.
  • Check your animal’s paws for balls of ice or snow that have formed between their pads. Rinse with warm water to remove.
  • Be aware that cats and wildlife left outside will seek the warmth and protection of a car’s engine. Bang on the hood or honk the horn before starting the engine.

For more helpful tips to keep your pets warm this winter, visit the Animal Welfare web site or find them on Facebook.