Are your pets paw-pared for Colorado snow?

Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite
Zoey (left) and Bailey race back to their human, Maggie Siple, on a snowy day in Rosedale park. Jan. 26, 2021.

Many grocery stores in Colorado are packed with people as the state gears up for what could be its biggest snow storm of the season. Mouthfuls Pet Supply is essentially a grocery store for pets in Denver’s Berkeley neighborhood, and it’s no different. 

The shop usually gets busier when a big storm is approaching, owner Kaiti Asmussen said. 

“People generally will kind of stock up on more of the food and treat and chew category items. And then once the snow hits, they want to come in and get the booties and the jackets,” she said.

Forecasts estimate up to 30 inches of snow will fall in some densely populated areas. Denver Animal Protection warned pet owners Thursday that failing to protect their animals from the elements can lead to an animal neglect charge, punishable by fines or up to a year in jail. 

Asmussen said cats and dogs can get cold, but there are easy steps that can ensure their comfort and safety. Dressing up animals in jackets or sweaters is not only adorable — it also protects pets against the cold. She also recommended moving beds to warmer areas of the house, like next to a space heater or vent. 

Pet owners who take their pets outside should make sure tracking microchips are up to date and collars are secure in case a pet gets lost in the snow, she added. It’s also important to clean snow clumps off of fur quickly to prevent blood circulation issues and frostbite. 

According to Denver Animal Protection guidance, owners should “remove snow, ice, salt and other ice-treatment chemicals from their coats and paws with a moist washcloth. This will keep them dry, but also prevent them from licking the chemicals and getting sick.” 

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals warns that ingesting ice melt may cause vomiting or diarrhea in pets. Depending on how much is consumed and the size of the pet, it may also lead to an “elevation in sodium level, causing tremors and seizures.”

Emily Cabrera said her family takes precautions when their dog, Frankie, is in the cold and snow. That includes dressing her up and applying special wax to her paws. 

“I just want to keep her safe,” Cabrera, who lives in Denver with her husband, Ashur, said. “She’s not very tall, so two feet of snow is going to be very overwhelming for her if that’s what we get.”

Asmussen also offered tips for anyone in Colorado who’s experiencing their first snow-in with an animal. 

“Items necessary to help you get through it are busy things for in the house, like chews, cause they can't spend as much time outside,” she said. “Raw bones, bully sticks, things like that can go a long way to keep them activated without destroying your house or bothering you too much if you're also working from home.”

In the event of a power outage, smaller animals that require warmer environments, like lizards and rodents, may benefit from a backup generator, according to Denver Animal Protection. 

CPR News and Denverite will be watching the storm develop over the next few days to see if it lives up to widespread anticipation.