Keeping Your Pets Safe During Winter

Two pup noses sticking out from under a blanket with text "It’s best to keep your pets indoors in the winter."

At Contra Costa County Animal Services, winter is one of the busiest times of the year for taking in lost animals. Making sure that animals are licensed, collared and micro-chipped helps tremendously in reuniting lost animals with owners, and we cannot stress enough the importance of taking those measures to ensure the safety of your animals. The winter season brings rain, wind, colder temperatures and other aspects that can harm your pets. Also, the destructive tendencies of winter weather can cause pets to become lost. There are some helpful steps you can take to keep pets safe and at home during the winter season.

1. Ensure that your pet is wearing an identification collar. The collar should ideally indicate your pet's name and who to contact if they are lost or injured.

2. Ensure that your animal is licensed and micro-chipped. Making sure your pet is licensed and micro-chipped greatly increases the likelihood of reunification.In fact, there's no better way to provide a path home for your pet if they become lost. Check our our Licensing Page for more information about how to license your pet.

3. Keep your pet indoors. Even if they spend the majority of their time outside, bring them in during the winter season. Many pets go missing during the winter because they are cold, and barriers can break down. If your pet has to be outdoors during the winter they must be protected by a draft- free shelter that is big enough to allow them to move around comfortably, but small enough to hold in body heat. The floor should be off the ground a few inches, and covered with cedar shavings or straw.

Please note: Keeping warm depletes energy, so pets that spend a lot of time outdoors during the winter need more food. Make sure to check your pet's water dish to make sure the water is fresh and not frozen. Please use plastic food and water bowls only as when the temperature is low, your pet's tongue can stick to metal.

4. Never leave your pets tethered or chained outside during loud events, or heavy storms. When animals become stressed, they will go to great lengths to escape their bonds and often succeed in breaking free.

5. Keep an eye out for stray animals that may be suffering outside during the winter. Do your best to help them by calling the Contra Costa County Animal Services to get them off the streets and into a warm, safe place.

In the event that your animal does escape, call Contra Costa County Animal Services' Lost and Found department at 925-608-8400(West and Central Contra Costa), or our Pinole shelter at 510-724-1036 to report your lost pet. Our shelters are open Tuesday - Saturday, and our staff will be happy to assist in locating and reuniting you with your lost pet. For more information, visit our website.