When Mother Nature hits us with her worst winter weather, it’s important to stay warm and stay safe. Our pets feel the chill, just like we do, so that means it’s also crucial to keep them and other animals safe too.

Here are some tips to keep in mind to keep your pets warm and safe if your power goes out during cold weather.

  • Provide blankets or extra bedding to pets like cats and dogs to help keep them warm. If you are cold, they may be cold too and could use the extra warmth. For small animals, consider wrapping a blanket around the enclosure to hold in warmth, but be sure to leave a significant opening for ventilation.
  • Keep pets indoors as much as possible. If they must go out, towel dry wet pets coming inside to prevent them from becoming too cold. Extreme cold weather can also result in frostbite for pets, and power outages heighten the risk for downed lines. To minimize risk, keep pets and people at least 25 feet away from downed wires and anything they may be touching. If you see a downed line, stay away and call 9-1-1 immediately and call us at 800-477-5050.
  • Relocate bird cages and other enclosures. Pets like birds, reptiles and fish can be sensitive to the cold. Keep them away from windows or doors where there could be drafts, and don’t put them too close to space heaters or fireplaces. Some animals, like birds, are very sensitive to smoke and fumes, which could harm them.
  • Have heat packs for your hands and feet? Consider placing them beneath your pet’s enclosure to help create warmth. Do not place the heat packs inside the habitat.
  • Try to keep your aquarium aerated. A portable back-up battery for your aquarium or a battery-operated air pump can help keep up the gas exchange in your aquarium and keep your fish healthy.
  • Check on livestock. Make sure outdoor livestock have access to a covered shelter that isn’t blocked by snow, ice or other obstacles. Provide extra food, water and bedding, and warm blankets where appropriate.
  • Make sure to stay stocked for your pet’s needs. Keep a week’s worth of supplies on hand for you and your pets, including food and water.
  • Make a pet-friendly plan. If you need to leave your home to find a warming center or other warm location, consider finding a pet-friendly option or take your pet to a safe place, such as a friend or family member’s home, if possible.

For more tips and helpful information on keeping your pets safe and healthy during winter storms, visit the State of Michigan’s MIReady page or Redcross.org/pets.