Denver Animal Protection reminds residents to protect their pets when the temps drop

Failure to provide proper shelter from the cold could result in a $999 fine and/or a year in jail ~

DENVER – Winter has been mild so far, but with daytime temperatures hitting single digits and overnight temps dipping below zero starting this weekend and into next week, Denver Animal Protection, a division of the Denver Department of Public Health & Environment, reminds residents to ensure that pets are protected from the elements. Failing to do so could have dangerous consequence for pets and lead to a Cruelty to Animals or Animal Neglect charge, up to a $999 fine and/or a year in jail for the owner.

The best way to protect pets from extreme temperatures is to avoid long-term outdoor exposure. But, if pets must be outside for longer durations, Denver city ordinance requires pets have adequate outdoor shelter such as a doghouse, porch area, or a similar structure that allows the animal to escape the elements. Further insulating the shelter or adding a “doggie door” to a garage or covered area adds another layer of protection from the cold.

Additional tips include:

  • When pets come in from the outdoors, remove snow, ice, salt and other ice-treatment chemicals from their coats and paws. This will keep them dry, but also prevent them from ingesting the chemicals.
  • Check for cracks in paw pads or redness between toes. Massaging petroleum jelly into paw pads before going outside can protect from salt and chemical agents. Booties provide protection from irritation. Use pet-friendly ice melts whenever possible.
  • Temperatures can change quickly in winter, especially as the sun sets. It’s important to remember not to leave your pet in a vehicle for prolonged periods of time.
  • Don’t leave dangerous and potentially lethal chemicals like snow and ice remover or anti-freeze within your pet’s reach.
  • Check under the hood of outdoor vehicles before starting them up. Stray cats often look for refuge in warm engines.
  • Don’t shave your dog down to the skin in the winter as a longer winter coat will provide more warmth. If your dog is short-haired, consider getting a coat or sweater.
  • Pets burn extra energy by trying to stay warm in the wintertime. Feed pets a bit more during the cold weather months to help provide much-needed calories, but check with your vet for the proper amount, as too much can contribute to obesity and health issues. Ensure that they also have plenty of water to keep them hydrated and to prevent dry skin.

For information about Denver’s Animal Protection ordinances or additional pet safety tips, visit

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