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Sad Bernese Mountain dog lying down at a straw laid shelter

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Animal care officials in Charlotte, North Carolina, are reminding pet owners to take precautions as freezing temperatures settle in.

With temperatures dropping into the teens and subzero wind chills in the mountains, even outdoor animals accustomed to the cold may need extra care.

Officials recommend bringing animals inside during extreme cold or heat, but if that’s not possible, county ordinances require proper sheltering of animals.

For dogs, this means a shelter with a floor, roof, and at least three sides, with the fourth side having a small opening for the dog to crawl inside. Straw is recommended for bedding as it dries out quickly and stays warmer than blankets or comforters.

The reason we recommend that over like a comforter or blanket… those retain moisture,” Melissa Knicely, Communications Director for CMPD Animal Care and Control, said. “Once they get wet and they get cold, they stay wet and cold, and it does not provide any comfort for your pet. Straw tends to dry out quickly and it it stays warmer.”

Indoor pets going outside may need sweaters and booties to protect them from the cold and winter chemicals. Some county shelters offer free straw during dangerously cold temperatures.

To report an animal that may not be receiving proper care, people should contact their county animal shelter.

Clemson University College of Agriculture, Forestry, and Life Sciences offers additional guidelines for cold weather animal care, including providing options for pets to stay warm, ensuring outdoor enclosures have raised floors and clean, dry bedding, and checking paws for injuries from ice or deicing chemicals.