Skip to main content

North Hills Monthly

How Cold Is Too Cold for My Pet to Be Outside?

Dec 31, 2018 09:27PM ● By North Hills Monthly magazine

By Carol Whaley, Director of Clinic Services, Animal Friends

Cold weather has settled into our region and as frost and snow cover the ground, we’ll all be seeking a warm and cozy place to shelter us from the cold. Our four-legged friends are no different.

Ensuring our pets are safe during inclement weather is an important responsibility for all pet owners. And, thanks to the tireless efforts of animal welfare organizations, advocates and local and state legislators, protecting pets from the elements is more important than ever in the eyes of the law.

Last year, Pennsylvania passed Comprehensive Animal Cruelty Act 10—or Libre’s Law—which strengthened Pennsylvania’s cruelty statute.

According to the new provisions in Libre’s Law, dogs cannot be tethered outside for longer than 30 minutes in temperatures below 32 degrees. However, a dog can be kept outside, untethered, if their shelter adequately maintains body temperature and keeps them dry. Some municipalities have codes that enable them to enforce stricter restrictions during extreme weather.

Within the city, inclement weather regulations offer even broader protection to our canine friends. While the City of Pittsburgh ordinance includes language on temperature restrictions similar to the state law, it also goes a step further in providing protection from inclement weather for untethered dogs.

“It shall be unlawful for any person to leave any dog—tethered or untethered—outside and unattended during any period in which a severe weather warning has been issued for Allegheny County by the National Weather Service for a continuous period of time greater than one half (½) hour, or, if the temperature during such period reaches: (1) Below 32 degrees Fahrenheit; or (2) Above 90 degrees Fahrenheit.”

To keep your pets healthy and safe during the coldest weather, limit their time outside as much as possible. Even if your pet is active and loves to run, freezing temperatures are nothing to play with. So, keep your potty breaks short and any other outdoor activities to a minimum. 

Enjoy the cold winter days with your four-legged family member snuggled up inside where you both belong!

For community cats that are spending the winter outside, finding shelter can be a challenge. Help your feline neighbors stay warm during the cold months ahead with a community cat shelter. Shelters can be constructed relatively inexpensively with thick plastic foam and plastic sheeting. Animal Friends has free straw available to those who are caring for outdoor animals and a limited supply of community cat shelters are available for a $5 donation. Call 412.847.7068 for details!