Finally, we’ve had some winterlike weather, so it's a good time to think about how to protect pets when the temperatures drop near the freezing mark.

Many people think because dogs and cats have fur, they can tolerate cold weather. Although their coats may serve as some insulation, cats and dogs feel the cold just like we do. In fact, prolonged exposure to cold temperatures can cause conditions such as hypothermia and frostbite in animals.

It's important to have a cold-weather plan for all pets. Dogs that are outside should be brought indoors during freezing or near freezing weather. If pets cannot be brought inside, then make sure that they have adequate shelter from the elements. Their shelter must be warm, protected from wind and rain, and raised off the ground.

Doghouses should not be overly large and should have warm bedding such as dry, clean towels or blankets. Bedding should be changed frequently. Elevating the doghouse off the ground by a few inches will prevent moisture from coming in through the floor. Positioning the opening away from the wind will help keep warmth in.

It is also important to make sure that pets have fresh, clean water at all times as they can become dehydrated in the winter time. Watch that the drinking water does not freeze and prevent access.

For outdoor cats, leave a garage door cracked so they have a warm place to go. If a feral colony is away from the home, have provisions such as bins or boxes propped up sideways with warm bedding such as blankets or hay so that they have a warm retreat.

If the neighborhood has cats roaming about, make sure to check cars before starting them on cold mornings. Cats tend to curl up in tire wheel wells and under the hood of cars to escape the cold weather, so make it a routine to knock on the hood before starting the car so that you do not injure a hiding cat.

If it is too cold for us to be outside, then it is too cold for pets. Do not leave a pet outside to suffer through the cold. If a pet is spotted outdoors during a freeze without adequate shelter, please alert the parish shelter.


DECEMBER: Home for the Holidays — Help the animals at the Louisiana SPCA find their forever home in time for the holidays. During the Home for the Holidays programs through Dec. 23, adoptables 6 months and up will be available for $50. With the Holiday Delivery program, a $75 donation gets deliver of your newly adopted pet on either Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Hanukkah or Kwanzaa. This program is available for all animals adopted from the Louisiana SPCA two weeks before the desired delivery date. For more information on Home for the Holidays and the Special Delivery program, visit

THURSDAY: Join the Louisiana SPCA for Cat Café, hosted at 6 p.m. at NO Fleas Market on Magazine Street. Cat Café will allow visitors to snuggle with cats and kittens while enjoying refreshments and discounted shopping. Space is limited and advanced registration is required. Visit to learn more and reserve your spot.

SATURDAY: From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., the Louisiana SPCA holds an adoption event at Clearview Mall. Adoption counselors and volunteers will be on hand to help you select the right pet for your family. Call (504) 368.5191 or visit or more information.

SATURDAY: From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., the Jefferson SPCA holds an adoption event at Jefferson Feed, 4421 Jefferson Highway. Adoption counselors will be on hand to help adopters find the perfect new pet.

SATURDAY: From noon to 3 p.m., Animal Rescue New Orleans holds an adoption event at Esplanade Mall, 1401 W. Esplanade Ave., Kenner. It will be inside, near the Old Navy store. Adoptable dogs, information on volunteering and adopting, and coloring pages for the kids. For more info:

SATURDAY: From noon to 4 p.m., Animal Rescue New Orleans holds a cat adoption event at Petco, 3520 Veterans Blvd., Metairie. Adoptable cats and information on volunteering and adopting. For more info:

SATURDAY: Critter Cinema will be held at the Louisiana SPCA, 1700 Mardi Gras Blvd., from 6 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. What better way to end the week than getting cozy with kitties and puppies, enjoying G-rated critter movies, making friends and snacking on pizza and popcorn at the Louisiana SPCA? For kids ages 5-10, bring a sleeping bag, pillow and PJs. $35 per child. Preregistration is required; call (504) 368.5191, ext. 207, or email to register. For more information, visit

LOST OR FOUND PETS: In Orleans Parish, send a photo, description of your pet, date lost/found and your contact info to In Jefferson Parish, send to and In St. Bernard Parish, send to

Traci D. Howerton is social media editor of Animal Rescue New Orleans, a nonprofit, volunteer-based, no-kill shelter. Contact ARNO at or visit