Keep Animals Cozy During Winter's Three-Dog Nights

Simple Steps for Keeping Cats, Dogs, and Horses Safe and Healthy in Winter

It's cold outside! A few days before the official start of winter, the season is already shaping up as a very chilly one for New Mexico, leaving unattended companion animals at risk of hunger, dehydration, hypothermia, and death. But, with a few simple steps, everyone can ensure their critters stay cozy and safe this winter.

Fur is most often not enough -- if you’re cold, your animal likely is, too. Be observant for signs of chilling in dogs and cats, including shivering, discoloration of extremities (commonly ears, feet, and tail), difficulty in movement, and other lethargic or awkward behavior. Short haired and smaller breeds of dogs and cats as well as elderly animals are particularly susceptible to cold weather conditions. If you suspect frostbite, do not rub the affected area and bring the animal to a veterinarian.

Bring 'em inside or winterize their shelter. While indoors is the best option, many inexpensive steps can be taken to keep a shelter cozy. Insulation through straw bedding is common and provides better heat retention than hay or blankets. Covering doorways with flaps of stiff materials and adding caulk or rubber trimming to prevent drafts can provide further insulation. Inexpensive weatherproof heat mats are also useful. Frequently check the condition of the animal's shelter for moisture (which can freeze into ice) and integrity against the elements. Also, check the animals' water dishes throughout the day to ensure water is not frozen.

Resources for Keeping Animals Warm

Barney, a 2012 recipient of the Horse Blanket Drive

For the past three years, APNM and Bernalillo Co. Animal Services have teamed up to implement the Straw Fund that provides residents with bedding for doghouses and other animal shelters. All Albuquerque and Bernalillo Co. animal control officers carry a straw bale in their vehicles, plus city and county residents can call 311 or 505-314-0280 to request straw for animals. At just $6 per bale, even small financial donations to the Straw Fund go a long way to providing safety for companion animals. To contribute, please visit our Donation Page (specifying "Straw Fund") or call 505-265-2322.


The Horse Blanket Drive, a partnership between APNM and Barn Dogs Equine Supply, collects free donated horse blankets to help needy families keep horses, donkeys, and mules warm. To contribute extra, freshly laundered blankets, please contact our Equine Campaign Manager or call 505-466-1059.

Please note that a horse blanket is a specific product with special features to help it stay on the horse's torso. A regular blanket will not be applicable for this collection drive, but, if you have extra blankets, many animal shelters will accept them.

Report Animal Cruelty

New Mexico residents should report concerns regarding animals suffering from cold conditions by first contacting their local animal control or law enforcement agency. If no response, call the Attorney General's Animal Cruelty Task Force Hotline (877-549-6263) between 9 a.m and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Outside those hours, please leave a message, and you will be contacted as soon as possible.




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