Golden Retriever sitting in the snow

With the dangerously frigid temperatures we’ve been experiencing, Eagle Mountain City would like to remind pet owners of the dangers of leaving dogs outside for extended periods of time.

Hypothermia can kill

Dogs can experience hypothermia just like humans. According to the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), this condition can be fatal. Even during mild weather, a dog with wet fur in a chilly breeze can experience this emergency just as easily as dogs left out in freezing temperatures.

Many owners falsely believe that the dogs fur coat keeps them sufficiently warm in the cold. Of course, dogs cannot tell their owners that something is wrong, so it is up to the owner to assess winter conditions before leaving their dogs outside.

Some dogs are more susceptible to hypothermia than others depending on certain characteristics. Very young and old dogs are at a higher risk, as well as those with short fur. There are some who might also have hypothalamus issues (the part of the brain that controls body temperature).

Regardless of the dog’s age, breed or health, it is unhealthy for dogs to remain in the cold for extended periods of time, even if they have shelter. Just as humans need warmth in winter, so do our furry friends.

If work keeps a pet owner away from home for long hours, as a responsible pet owner they should consider an indoor day care that would keep their pet safe. Or perhaps a trusted neighbor could check on the animal in the home, letting them out at intervals as needed.

Speak Out

When temperatures begin to drop, Animal Humane Society’s and law enforcement receive a significant increase in calls. Animal lovers understand that extreme weather conditions can be deadly for pets.

Leaving a pet outside in extreme temperatures without food and shelter can be a criminal offense.

If you think a pet is in danger due to cold weather, it’s important to consider the variables. With dogs, size, age, and breed are important factors. Certain canine breeds – like Huskies, Akitas, Chow Chows and Alaskan Malamutes – actually appreciate the colder weather and can withstand longer periods of time outside, even in subzero temperatures. Cats are more capable of seeking shelter on their own and thus are less likely to suffer the effects of freezing temperatures.

Access to shelter is another important thing to consider before registering a complaint. Pay close attention to body language. Is the dog lifting its paws? Shivering? Whining or barking? Acting stiff or unable to move about freely?

If, after considering these points, you suspect an animal is being neglected or is in danger due to cold weather, politely let the owner know you’re concerned. There are some pet owners who genuinely do not know the risk that cold weather poses to their pets. If they respond poorly and continue to neglect the animal, the HSUS encourages you to contact your local law enforcement. Here in Eagle Mountain, that is our Utah County Sheriff’s Office – which can be reached at (801) 798-5600 any time of the day or night.

Before reaching out to law enforcement, document as many details as you can about the situation, including date, time, location and type of animal(s) involved. Photos or video can also be helpful. Our dogs rely on us to make good decisions for them. So, when the ‘weather outside is frightful,’ let’s do all we can to keep them warm, happy, healthy and safe.