Animal Friends Offers Free Straw for Cold Outdoor Pets

In preparation for plummeting temperatures, Animal Friends is once again offering free bags of straw to anyone who cares for outdoor pets or feral cats.

Animal Friends urges pet owners to make their pets part of the family and keep them inside the home. Dogs, cats and domestic rabbits are social animals, and just like humans, they suffer without interaction and companionship. Animal Friends offers many programs, including low cost spay/neuter and behavior training, that may help overcome issues that sometimes prompt a pet owner’s decision to house a pet outside. Call 412.847.7000 to learn more about these options.

However, recognizing the reality that many pets do live outside, Animal Friends urges those pet owners to obey the law by ensuring that outdoor pets have access to proper food, drinkable water and warm, dry shelters. 

Because blankets, towels and pillows will only get wet and freeze, straw is the best insulation against the cold and wet winter. Free bags of straw can be picked up at Animal Friends, located at 562 Camp Horne Road in the North Hills, just 0.5 miles west of Exit 8 off I-279.  

A car mat or rug should be used as a flap over a doghouse door to keep the inside free of wind, snow and rain. If you are in need of a dog house, please contact Animal Friends to inquire about availability.

Extra care must also be taken to provide unfrozen water in not-metallic bowls and extra food at all times during cold weather.

Frequently check your pet’s paws, ears and tail for signs of frostbite, a very common occurrence.  If you suspect frostbite, your pet will need to see a veterinarian immediately.  Check your dog’s chain often to make sure it is not frozen to the ground or tangled.  A tangled, too-short chain can cost your pet his or her life in bad weather. Also be mindful of salt and other snow-melting chemicals that can injure their paw pads.

Animal Friends’ annual straw drop is also an important opportunity for feral cat caregivers to insulate feral cat shelters. Animal Friends is selling a limited supply of winter shelters for feral cats. The cost is just $5, and the houses will be available at Animal Friends, Mondays through Fridays between 11am – 5 pm.

For more information, call Animal Friends at 412.847.7000 or visit

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