STATEWIDE — As temperatures continue to drop, it becomes more and more dangerous for four-legged friends to spend time outdoors.
Like humans, dogs, cats, and yes, even goats, can get frostbite, so it's important to keep an eye on animals outside.
City Farm Austin's Paula Tarver take precautions to keep her 'kids' healthy. By adding sweaters to keep them warm, extra hay to their quarters, and if it gets too cold, bringing them inside.
One way to check if a pet has been outside too long is to see if paw pads have become discolored.
Experts say even if pets are out for just a few minutes, it's important to wipe their paws, especially if you use salt or antifreeze on sidewalks or steps.
"Salt can cause vomiting, so if they're licking their pads after they come in, that can cause a problem," said Veterinarian Dr. Reed Stevens.
"Not only salt can get encrusted in there, but ice, and if that ends up cutting the pad of the paw, it can become infected very rapidly," said SPCA spokesperson Gina Browning.
While there is no law forbidding from pets living outside, an appropriate shelter is required.
According to Texas law, it's illegal to leave an animal outside in extreme weather conditions which includes the actual or effective outdoor temperature is below 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Law also states it is illegal to fail to provide necessary food, water, care or shelter for an animal or to transport or confine an animal in a cruel manner. "Necessary food, water, care, or shelter" includes food, water, care, or shelter provided to the extent required to maintain the animal in a state of good health.
Anyone who witnesses an animal outside for too long or in a situation as stated above should call the SPCA or local animal services to report.
"If we get on that property and the shelter is not in alignment with what the law requires, not what we think is right, but what the law requires, we can remove that animal without any sign of suffering," said Browning.
Experts also suggest having emergency pet hospital phone numbers on hand in case of an emergency and one’s regular vet is unavailable.
Here are several contact numbers to call if you're concerned about an animal's exposure to cold weather:
- SPCA of Texas: 214-461-1850
- Austin Animal Center: 512-974-2000
- San Antonio Animal Services: 210-207-4738