Winter Pet Care Tips from the Highland County Humane Society


Winter weather is here and as part of preparation for this season, we need to be mindful of our pets and the impact on them also.  The Highland County Humane Society can help with supplies for winter.  Corena Huffman, President of the Highland County Humane Society, has information about cold weather pet care.

“The first thing and the most important thing to us is that animals, especially dogs and cats, need to be kept indoors during inclement weather,” says Huffman.   “Some dogs are acclimated to stay outdoors with thicker coats, but they can freeze or become hypothermic and develop frostbite and other health issues because of the cold.  In the State of Virginia, the law has been changed and it’s illegal to chain a dog out 24/7 when the temperatures fall below 33 degrees and there is a severe weather warning or blizzard coming.”

“In saying that, we can offer help with straw and loan out crates or kennels for people to be able to bring their outdoor dogs inside,” says Huffman.  “Outdoor pets also need clean thawed water and extra calories to be able to stay warm in the cold.  When the weather is severe and temperatures drop, animals do shiver and require extra calories to stay warm.”

“Secondly, cats like to hide in warm spaces, so please, check your car before you start it,” says Huffman.  “You can honk the horn or tap on the hood to make sure there are no kitties hiding in your engine. They could be severely hurt, or even killed, once the engine starts up.   If you do take your animal outside, animals, especially dogs with thinner coats or less hair or recently groomed, may do better if they have a jacket or sweater for being out in the weather, just like us.   Another tip is to avoid leaving your animal in the car when it’s cold, unless the car is running with the heat on.  It’s really too chilly for them to stay inside the car.  You can think of when you first get in your car and it’s not warmed up, how cold things are.”

“As we get our roads and sidewalks treated for bad weather, be aware of the salt and other chemicals and de-icers that are on the streets and sidewalks,” says Huffman.  “They can be harmful to your pets’ paws, and pads of their feet, especially if they lick their paws and pads after walking.  So be sure to rinse those chemicals off after your walk or use little snow booties to keep their feet protected.”

“In saying that as well, you don’t want to let your pet eat snow, if you can help it,” says Huffman.  “There are chemicals and de-icers in the snow, and sometimes antifreeze, which can cause some severe health issues and ultimately death if those aren’t treated properly.”

“Overall, I just want to reiterate that keeping your animals inside during inclement weather is best,” says Huffman.  “Again, we have supplies and things that we can loan our Highland County residents and neighbors.”

For more information, call 540-468-1575 or email

Story By

Bonnie Ralston

Bonnie Ralston is the Assistant Station Coordinator at WVLS and a Highland County news reporter. She began volunteering at Allegheny Mountain Radio in the fall of 2005. In 2006 she became an AMR employee and worked in Bath County for eight years as the WCHG Station Coordinator and then as the news reporter there. She began working in radio while in college and has stayed connected to radio, in one way or another, for more than thirty years. She grew up in Staunton, Virginia, while spending a lot of time on her family’s farm in Deerfield, Virginia. She enjoys spending time outside, watching old TV shows and movies and tending to her chickens.

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