Houston freeze 2022: How to protect pets from cold, Texas law for dogs outside

Freezing cold temperatures are in the forecast, and the time to prepare is now.

Remember to protect the four Ps – people, pipes, plants, and, of course, pets.

MORE: Here's how you can prepare, stay safe, and save energy

Even though dogs and cats have fur, the Houston Humane Society is reminding pet owners that cold weather can still be dangerous for them.

Texas outdoor dog law: New rules this year for pets left outside

The humane society says pet owners should refrain from leaving pets outside. They're also reminding owners about the Safe Outdoor Dogs Act that went into effect in January.

The law impacts dog owners who keep their pets tied up outside. Owners are required to provide the dog with a sturdy structure that protects the dog from inclement weather including rain, hail, sleet, snow, high winds, extreme low temperatures, or extreme high temperatures. The dog must be able to stand up, sit, turn around and lie down in a normal position while inside.


Among other requirements, dogs also need access to drinking water and can’t be left stuck in standing water.

The law also specifies what kind of restraints can be used for dogs that are left outside.

Violating the law can result in a Class C misdemeanor, or a Class B misdemeanor if the person has been previously convicted of a violation.

Click here for more information about the law.

How to prepare your pets for the cold temperatures

The Houston Humane Society also shared the following tips for keeping your pets safe and warm during cold weather:

• Keep pets indoors — Refrain from leaving your pets outside or unattended during freezing weather. Additionally, do not leave your pet unattended in a vehicle during extreme temperatures.

• Keep them dry — When coming indoors, ensure all your pet’s paws and fur are nice and dry after a walk in the rain or snow.

• Designate a safe space inside — If conditions get harsh, be prepared with potty pads for pets who will have difficulty going outside during severe weather.

• Use a sweater — Pet sweaters can be as functional as they are cute. Short-haired dogs will appreciate the extra warmth of a sweater or jacket they are comfortable in.

• Provide proper shelter for outdoor pets – The Safe Outdoor Dogs Act is in effect and gives pet owners easy-to-understand guidelines for restraining dogs outside. A dog may not be restrained outdoors if the dog does not have adequate shelter and there is inclement weather including rain, sleet, snow and temperatures below 32 degrees Fahrenheit. For more information on this new law, visit www.houstonhumane.org.

• Beware of car hazards — Before you take off, tap the hood of the vehicle to protect any stray kitties who may have taken refuge under the car. Always clean up anti-freeze leaks, as these are lethal to curious dogs and cats.

• Don’t forget the strays! — Leave extra blankets or towels you can spare outside to create a safe space for any stray furry friends to find shelter through extreme temperatures.

How to report unattended animals

Houston residents who spot an unattended animal can report them to the Harris County Animal Cruelty Task Force by calling 832-927-PAWS or the Houston SPCA at (713(869-7722.