Alaska is an extreme place to live. We believe it is the most beautiful place on earth, both in summer and winter months. However, the Alaskan winter season also comes with periods of darkness, wind, extreme cold temperatures and large amounts of ice and snow. Here are a few reminders from MSB Animal Care to help your pets stay warm, healthy, happy and comfortable during the Alaskan winter.



First and foremost, it is against Borough regulations to have your animal running loose. Yes, this includes cats, chickens, rabbits and so forth. All domestic animals are required to be restrained to their own property. Pets/livestock that run loose can get lost, starve, get frostbite, fall through the ice or freeze to death. Loose cats will curl up next to warm engines, and that is always a bad idea. Also remember... wildlife in Alaska can bring detrimental harm to your domestic animal.

Keep your pet safe. Keep them restrained. There is a leash law and it’s a $110 dollar fine.



  • Outdoor dog housing:

    • Dig the snow away from the front of the dog house to prevent it from getting Inside the house when they go in and out.

    • Straw works best for bedding and is a good insulator. Beds get wet and no longer provide insulation. 

  • Elderly pets, young pets, small breed, short haired and pets with medical conditions get colder faster:

    • Conditions like diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, and hormonal imbalances can compromise a pet’s ability to regulate their body temperature.​

    • Elderly pets with arthritis can have stiff and tender joints when left outside for long periods of time.

  • Heated pet beds can provide additional warmth and comfort.

  • Highly visible collars, leashes and blinkers that stand out during periods of darkness:

    • Neon,  glow-in-the-dark, reflective, and fluorescent collars should be used.

  • Use caution, even in cold temperatures when leaving your animal in a vehicle.​​

    • Running the engine occasionally is dangerous due to carbon monoxide.

  • Diet:

    • Your pet burns more calories in the winter so you need to increase their food intake.

    • If you are unable to use a heated water dish, put warm water on their dog food.

  • Pet Sweaters, coats, and booties do help. If your pet(s) will allow you, equip them with some winter gear. This will keep your pet warm but cannot be used alone to keep your pet warm. Remove winter gear when inside to avoid skin problems related to damp fabrics.

It’s a violation of MSB 24.05.080

Failure to provide humane care

For NOT providing adequate FOOD, SHELTER & WATER

  • Be sure to check your animal throughout the winter

  • Use Common Sense. 

  • Long haired breeds like Huskies will do better in cold weather than short haired breeds. When you are cold enough to want to go inside, your pets probably are too.

  • When you have a question about your pet’s health during the winter months, call your veterinarian.

  • Frostbite and hypothermia:

    • Frostbite is an injury caused by freezing of the skin.

    • Hypothermia is when your pets body temperature falls below normal. 

  • When an animals body gets cold, it pulls all the blood from the extremities to the center of the body to keep warm

  • If you suspect this,  DO NOT soak, rub the affected area, or apply heat, wrap them in blankets and take them to your veterinarian.


Never leave your pet unattended in a parked car for any period of time. On a warm day, the temperature in a car can reach 120°F in a matter of minutes – even with the windows partially open. Your pet can quickly suffer brain damage or die from heatstroke or suffocation when trapped in high temperatures. This is what you should do if your pet is exposed to high temperatures:

  • Be alert to the signs of heat stress

  • If your pet has become overheated, you must lower his body temperature immediately by taking the following steps:
    1. Move your pet into the shade and apply cool (not cold) water all over his body to gradually lower his body temperature.
    2. Apply ice packs or cold towels to your pet’s head, neck, and chest only.
    3. Let your pet drink small amounts of cool water or lick ice cubes.

  • Finally, take your pet directly to a veterinarian – it could save your pet’s life.

If you see an animal in a car exhibiting any signs of heat stress, call your local animal care and control agency or police department immediately!

Dogs and fireworks



July 5th is the busiest day of the year at animal shelters. Dogs are found miles from their homes, confused, disoriented, and exhausted. People call hoping to locate a missing dog that, terrified, crashed through a window, jumped a high fence, or broke its leash or chain.

An ounce of prevention:

  • If loud noises upset your dog, make sure someone stays with it.

  • Keep your dog inside, safe from loud noises.

  • If you wish to tranquilize your dog, consult your veterinarian.

  • Contact an animal behaviorist to work with your pet, but call well in advance of Independence Day.


Candy can make a pet sick or may be lethal. Chocolate contains a stimulant called theobromine, which can make dogs very ill, and could even cause death if consumed in enough quantity. If you want to treat your pets, stock up on dog biscuits or catnip toys. If you suspect your pet has gotten into a potentially poisonous substance, call your veterinarian immediately! Have the telephone number to your local emergency animal hospital readily available, as well as the number for the national animal poison control center.



Holidays can bring stress to all of us, and pets are no exception. When routines are disrupted and new activities occur, your pet may be the first to notice. Follow these tips to make the holidays more relaxing for everyone, including your companion animals.

  • Shy animals can get stressed with the hustle and bustle of holiday guests, so provide a quiet room where your pets can escape the activity.

  • Holiday guests may not know your pets' routines. If your guests smoke, make sure they are careful with their cigarettes. Also, let them know in advance whether they are allowed to give treats to your animals.

  • As your holiday visitors come and go, there will be many escape opportunities for your pets. Make sure that your pets always wear identification tags, and watch the door!


These holiday safety tips are courtesy of the American Humane Association, you can visit them at: