Pet Safety Tips

Service Information

Pet Safety Tips 

Please click below to view pet safety tips by topic. If you see an animal in distress, call your local police department for assistance.





COVID-19 Pet Safety Tips and FAQ

In the age of COVID-19, all of us are worried about our families, including our pets. Every family should have a “disaster plan” so that we can be prepared for anything that may happen. We should all have a supply of food, bedding and toys ready, so that should an emergency arise, our family and friends will know where our pets’ necessities are located. Below is a summary of guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) working with the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) on COVID-19 patients and persons under investigation (PUIs) because of exposure to the virus.

Summary of recommendations provided by the Centers for Disease Control and American Veterinary Medical Association

  • Pets of COVID-19 patients or PUIs are best kept at home for the sake of the people (bond with pets and comfort from their presence) and the animals (less stress, less chance of animal falling ill. COVID-19 patients should limit contact with pets because of evidence that a tiny number of animals have cultured positive for this virus (5-6 worldwide with intensive interest and investigation by the veterinary medical community). Evidence STRONGLY SUGGESTS people can give pets COVID-19, pets CANNOT GIVE PEOPLE COVID-19. Other family members in household should do pet care, remembering basic hygiene around pets, frequent hand-washing and food safety.
  • If your family cannot look after pet, the next best practice is pet sheltering with family, friends, neighbors or good samaritans.
  • In the event the far more preferable alternatives listed above are not possible, the LEAST BEST choice is to shelter the animal in one of the shelters we have set up with our partners in the Cook County Shelter Community. They are Anti-Cruelty Society (ACS), Chicago Animal Care and Control (CACC) and the South Suburban Humane Society. We also have shelters who have offered space. CACC and ACS will cover Chicago and SSHS will cover Cook County.
  • These shelters will follow CDC/AVMA guidance as it stands and as it evolves in a fluid situation

Below are some frequently asked questions gathered by Illinois Department of Agriculture for Cook County residents who prefer to explore these issues more deeply:

Pet Resources Options FAQ

How can we get pet food if it is normally purchased at the store?

Option A – Online ordering:  Amazon, Chewy, Petco, PetSmart, Pet Supplies Plus or other pet stores with online ordering capabilities. 

Option B – Local Delivery: online ordering from local grocery or pet stores.

Option C – Local Animal Resources such as pet shelters/rescues or pet food pantry for possible donations with pick up from a third party, neighbor or community member.       

Option D – Contact the pet’s veterinarian for alternatives to the pet’s normal diet.  It is not advised to home prepare any non-commercial pet food without consultation and guidance from the pet’s veterinarian.

Option E – Emergency order – a request from a local/regional emergency manager to the State Emergency Operations Center can be done.  This is intended for a large/critical need for pet food and would result in a bulk order to be delivered to a volunteer organization to distribute.  This request must come from emergency management personnel and confirmation of critical need prior to request is mandatory (IDOA communicating with requestor).

How can we get veterinary prescription pet food and/or prescriptions from our vet clinic?

**Prescriptions will be approved by methods determined by each veterinary clinic to ensure proper medication goes to the proper pet/owner. **

Option A – Contact the pet’s veterinary clinic and schedule a pick up from a third party/neighbor/community member. May also be able to mail medication prescriptions.  This has been occurring already throughout the state.

Option B – Contact the pet’s veterinary clinic and ask about online ordering; some clinics have their own online ordering, others will approve prescription orders through Chewy, Hill’s Science Diet Home Delivery, 1-800 Pet Meds, etc.

What about prescriptions my vet has called into a local pharmacy like Walgreens or CVS?

Option A – Contact the dispensing pharmacy to inquire about third party pick-up.

My pet is sick, what do I do?

**Call your pet’s veterinary clinic, or local emergency clinic if after hours. Options MAY be:**

Option A – if veterinary clinic determines it is a non-emergency, they may choose to perform an exam via telemedicine or recommend continuing to monitor with follow up exams as needed.

Option B – if the veterinary clinic determines it is an emergency they will provide further guidance on how your pet will be seen.

What about my horse/goat/cattle who requires feed?

Option A – coordinate pick up from the farm store/feed store with a third party/neighbor/local community member

Option B – coordinate with county Farm Bureau and/or U of IL Extension to facilitate coordination as in A above, or to find resources if unavailable from feed/farm store.

There is no evidence that companion animals, including pets can spread COVID-19.  For questions regarding your pet and COVID-19 please visit the following website for more information: Illinois Department of Agriculture COVID-19 Animal Resources.

Back to top.

Coyote Pet Safety Tips

January to May is coyote mating and whelping season. During this period and until weaning, coyotes are more visible and more aggressive. The Cook County Department of Animal and Rabies Control offers the following safety tips to prevent encounters between coyote and cats or small dogs:

  • In areas near heavily wooded parts of Cook County, studies have found that cat forms a substantial part of coyote’s diet. During mating and whelping season, it’s essential to keep your cats indoors, especially at night.
  • Small dogs are also a food source as well as a perceived threat to coyotes looking after their own pups. Small dogs should be supervised at all times in the backyard, especially after dark. Barking may also attract coyotes so it’s important to stay alert.
  • Switch up your routine. Coyotes are smart and can learn your schedule. If you always let Fido out or take him for a walk at a certain time, coyotes will learn that and be ready at that time.
  • Feral cats should be fed during daylight hours and food should never be left out. That can be a welcome invitation for coyotes.
  • Walk dogs on a short leash and always be aware of your surroundings.
  • Bird feeders attract small mammals looking for food that may have fallen from the feeder. Raking and removing the bird feed from the ground will keep small mammals and coyote from being attracted.
  • Most coyotes are naturally very shy of human contact, but if you encounter a coyote on a walk make yourself very big and loud to scare it away. Carrying and using a whistle, bell or horn can be used to help scare them away as well. You can also jump around and bang on garbage cans or whatever else is around.

The population of coyotes roughly doubles in Cook County during springtime breeding and whelping season. Our multi-year study has shown that by the end of winter, disease and other events brings the population back to its normal size. The coyote in our area have learned to adapt living closely to people in both the County and the City of Chicago.

If we do our part in allowing them to remain wild they will be a minimal nuisance to us and our pets.

Back to top.

Summer Pet Safety Tips 

Cook County Animal and Rabies Control urges pet owners to take special precautions to protect the health and welfare of their pets during the warm summer months. The department offers tips for pet owners to keep in mind:

Do not leave your pet in a hot car

Even with the windows rolled down, studies have shown that the temperature inside the car can increase by 15 degrees above the outside temperature. The law requires that any time the ambient temperature is above 78 degrees, you cannot leave your dog in a car.

Keep your pets cool when outside

All dogs should be provided with cool water and shade, and monitored when outside. Short-coated animals and animals with white or tan fur are susceptible to sunburn, especially on their noses. 

Consider a haircut

If your dog has a thick coat, consider a haircut for summer. One inch is a good length to keep you dog more comfortable while avoiding sunburn.

Take care of your dog’s paws

Remember that asphalt and sidewalks are hotter than grass, and dogs’ paw pads are highly sensitive to heat. Whenever possible, walk your dog on grass, dirt or gravel, and avoid asphalt and concrete during a heat wave.

Keep inside temperatures cool

Make sure your indoor pets have water and are comfortable when in the home. And don’t be alarmed if you see your cat sleeping somewhere odd, like the bathtub or the closet. Cats look for the coolest spot in the home. 

Ensure window screens are secure

Before opening any windows in your home this summer, make sure there is a screen installed. Keep windows without screens closed and ensure adjustable screens are tightly secured. Cats are curious by nature and an open window without a screen could pose as a safety risk.

Back to top.

Winter Pet Safety Tips

The bitter cold creates hazardous conditions for residents and their pets. The County’s Animal and Rabies Control reminds residents to take special precautions to keep their pets safe during this extremely cold and dangerous weather.

  • Bring all pets indoors:  All dogs and cats, whether they are acclimated to outdoor living or not, must be brought indoors during sub-zero weather. As the responsible caregiver of a pet, you should provide an indoor heated shelter for your animal. 
  • Salt and ice:  Both salt and ice can irritate your dog’s footpads. If your dog will tolerate them, foot coverings are advised. If your dog will not tolerate foot coverings, avoid the salt when possible and wash the dog’s paws with warm water when you return home.  
  • Frostbite: Dogs and cats may have fur coats but they also have exposed areas that are susceptible to frostbite. Limit their time outdoors for waste elimination only. Walks should not exceed 10 minutes in sub-zero temperatures. Check their pads when you get home and wash with warm (not hot) moist towels. If you suspect frostbite on any extremity, including the nose or the tips of the ears, contact your veterinarian.
  • Keep them leashed: More pets become lost in the winter than any other season because snowfall can disguise recognizable scents that would normally help them find their way home. Prevent your pets from becoming lost by keeping dogs leashed on walks and, just in case you are separated from your pets, make sure their collars have up-to-date contact information and they are microchipped.
  • Be seen: Due to Daylight Savings, many of us are relegated to walking our dogs in the dark. Keep yourself and your dog are safe by wearing reflective gear (clothing, leash, collar, etc.) and keeping your dog close when walking on the street.
  • Properly secure potentially poisonous material, such as antifreeze: Antifreeze is extremely toxic to all living creatures. Keep antifreeze bottles out of the reach of animals and clean up all antifreeze spills immediately.
  • Be prepared: Winter brings extreme weather that can cause power outages. Have an emergency plan and make sure it includes your pets. Have an emergency kit with enough food, water and medication to last your pets at least five days. You may never need it, but if you do, you will be thankful you planned.

Recommendations regarding wild and feral animals:

  • Honk before starting your car: Feral cats and wild animals will seek refuge and warmth wherever they can. A car’s engine, for example, may provide a warm spot to “hole up” in sub-zero conditions. Drivers should honk their vehicle’s horn before starting the ignition to give a wakeup call to any critter that may be hiding.
  • Call officials if a wild animal enters your home: If an animal has chosen your attic, your garage or even space under a deck as refuge, close off access to the rest of the house and contact local officials for their removal. 

While laws in some municipalities may require only that pet owners provide food, water and a shelter, an outside dog house may not be suitable during severe cold weather. All residents are urged to be alert to pets being left outside for extended periods and to call authorities if they see an animal that could be in danger.

Back to top.