17 simple steps you can take to help animals this winter.

As winter rolls along, it's important for everyone to stay warm.

Throughout this season, much of the United States has been buried under "crippling" amounts of snow and ice.


Meteorologist Louis Uccellini showing how little chance we have of escaping winter. Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images.

So when one of those storms hits, stock up on hot chocolate, get under a blanket, and get ready to wait it out while you finally catch up on "Mad Men" (seriously, it ended ages ago what are you doing with your life?).

Just remember, while you're wrapped up all cozy and planning your best snowstorm Instagram post, there are other creatures out there who need to stay warm too.

Here are some things you can do to help your pets and other animals survive yet another winter wonderland.

1. Keep your pets indoors as much as possible.

The quickest, easiest way to make sure your pets are safe and warm during wintry weather is to keep them inside.

Outdoor cats will throw you some serious shade, and you'll obviously still have to walk your dog, but make sure all members of your family are inside while the worst of the winter apocalypse bellows through.

"Do ... do you think it's like this on the other side of the house?" Photo via iStock.

2. Dog sweaters! They're cute AND practical.

Who doesn't love a dog in a sweater? If a dog in a sweater were president, there'd be no more war. That's just a fact. Besides being adorable, dressing your dog up a little for their walk helps them avoid injury and hypothermia. Not to mention, it's just not fair for you to put on seven layers of clothing and then march your dog outside naked.

Short-haired dogs are especially sensitive to cold air, and wind chill can cause frostbite, which can lead to permanent damage. So dress your pup up beforehand.

This knitted pullover is perfect for all pup-ccasions, both casual and formal. Don't be caught playing dead without this chic little number. Photo by Odd Andersen/AFP/Getty Images

3. Build an outdoor shelter for your pet.

If your pet spends most of their time outside and simply can't stand the thought of staying indoors all day, its important to have a winter-proof outdoor shelter for them.

Make sure it's dry and big enough for your pet to lie down comfortably. Also make sure it's raised a few inches above the ground for protection from the snow.


4. Don't forget about the stray cats in your neighborhood.

It's always a good idea to keep an eye out for neighborhood cats that spend most of their time outside. They may be feral or owned and just wandering.

If you see one, and can do so, offer them shelter in your home (if you have a screened-in porch and a box and some blankets, or even just a box and some towels to put out for them) and some food and water.

Stray cats may talk big, but even they can't entirely fend for themselves in winter storms.

"I'm not kidding, Steve. Tell them to let us in." "I'm barking, Marge. Don't you see me barking?!" Photo by Justin Tallis/AFP/Getty Images.

5. If you're driving anywhere, check under the hood of your car before you turn it on.

Your car's engine is a warm, dry place where small animals might seek shelter. Small cats, chipmunks, and squirrels have been known to crawl up under the hoods of cars and fall asleep while checking your oil.

To avoid hurting them, check under your hood and bang around a bit to scare them off before starting the car.

"Your PSI is a little low. Also your rear taillight is broken. I'll let you off with a warning." Photo via iStock.

6. Protect your dog's paws from salt.

The salt used to melt ice and snow can be harmful to your pets. If it gets on their paws, it might sting, and if they attempt to lick it off, it can be dangerous if ingested.

Make sure you wipe your pet's paws with a damp towel if they've been around salt.

Booties can also protect your dogs paws, with the advantage of being cute as hell. Plus you get to say the word "booty" as much as you want. Photo by David Hecker/AFP/Getty Images.

7. Build a brush pile for wild animals to shelter in.

If you have a yard that isn't buried in snow yet, get out there and build a brush pile out of leaves and sticks. Believe it or not, small animals and insects will find it and use it as shelter from the cold.

Think about it this way: Your lawn is a place where trees and bushes used to be. So when the snow comes, the animals in the area have fewer places to take refuge. Help them out by giving them a little bit of nature back.

See how stressed he is? Photo via iStock.

8. You may need to feed your pet more food than usual.

Of course your pets always need food and water, but in the winter when it's cold, they'll burn more calories to stay warm.

Keep them well fed and hydrated and they'll be a lot more comfortable.

"So he started drinking and before you know it, there was potato salad everywhere. I knew we shouldn't have invited him." Photo by Frederick Florin/AFP/Getty Images.

9. Provide water for wild animals whose usual water source may have frozen over.

Making sure your own pets have water during the storm is important, but it's also a good idea to have a fresh water source outside for other animals.

When it's freezing, water will ... well you know. This leaves birds and small creatures with much fewer reliable sources of water. Putting a water source outside with a safe heating element to make sure it doesn't freeze will save local animals a lot of grief.

"I swear there was a pond here two days ago." "Yeah well it's not here NOW, IS IT, TERRY?" Photo via iStock.

10. Always buy nontoxic antifreeze.

Antifreeze has a sweet smell and taste that can be very attractive to animals, especially hungry animals looking to escape the cold. However, it's highly poisonous if consumed, so buying a nontoxic brand is an easy way to make sure it won't harm a creature who just wanted a nice dinner.

You can also buy antifreeze with "denatonium benzoate" — a bittering agent that won't attract wildlife.

Looks like liquid bubblegum. Tastes like liquid poison. Photo via iStock.

11. Dry your pets off when they come in from outside.

Keeping your pet dry is a key way to make sure they don't freeze — especially after a long walk or when they come inside. When you and your dog come back from a walk or a quick run through the snow, dry them off with a towel and get all the snow out from between their toes.

You wouldn't want to be soaking wet in the freezing cold. Your pets probably don't like it either.

"This displeases me. My dad is the president. I shouldn't have to deal with this." Photo by Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images.

12. Let your pet's fur grow out for the winter.

If you regularly shave or cut your dog's hair, let them go au natural during the winter. It will help them stay insulated and warm. Plus, exposed skin on an animal can increase its chances of frostbite and hypothermia.

They call him Mr. Boombastic. Get it? Shaggy? Photo via iStock.

13. Combat your pet's skin's dryness with a humidifier.

If your pet is regularly coming in from the cold snow to your dry, heated home, they might get dry skin, which can be very irritating and cause a lot of discomfort.

A good way to combat against this is to keep a humidifier in your home. Just like you do for your own skin.

Steam: air with gravitas. Photo via iStock.

14. Regular grooming year-round can help when a winter storm hits.

Believe it or not, regularly brushing your pets and keeping them groomed can help keep them safe come blizzard time.

Brushing improves circulation, which helps keep them warm and combats the aforementioned skin dryness (in case you don't have a humidifier on hand) — not to mention that healthy clean fur helps your pets insulate better, which keeps them nice and toasty.

Fab. You. Lusssss. Photo by Hendrik Schmidt/AFP/Getty Images.

15. Don't leave your pets alone if you're traveling.

This might seem like an obvious one, but if it's below freezing, you really shouldn't leave your pets alone in the house while you ski for a week. Either take your pet with you or have someone else take care of them.

A pet left alone in a freezing house is susceptible to hypothermia and could freeze to death.

I swear I passed that tree before. Photo via iStock.

16. If you do brave the snow for a w-a-l-k, keep your dog on a leash.

Dogs rely on scents to help them get around — but when the ground is covered in snow, they can lose those familiar scents and are more likely to get lost.

When you take your dog for a walk, keep it business-only and don't let them wander too far away.

Wow. Much snow. Very winter. Photo by Patrick Domingo/AFP/Getty Images.

Finally. And most importantly:

17. Speak out if you see a pet left outside.

No pet deserves to be left out in the cold. If you see one, let their owner know that you're concerned. If nothing changes, get proactive and report it to your local animal control agency or the police. Document the date, time, and location and take pictures. Make no mistake: Animal abuse is a crime.

Don't be afraid to call 911 if that's your only option.


Winter can be tough for everyone. The best way to think about taking care of animals is this: Don't let your animal be subjected to anything you wouldn't want to be subjected to yourself.

You wouldn't go outside without a coat on, so don't let your dog. You wouldn't want all your water sources to freeze over, so don't let it happen to animals.

You have the luxury of a heated home and reliable food. Other animals might not have that, so once you've got your winter storm prep down, take a second to think about them.

For more information on how you can help animals during the winter, check out the Humane Society website as well as the ASPCA.

True

When Sue Hoppin was in college, she met the man she was going to marry. "I was attending the University of Denver, and he was at the Air Force Academy," she says. "My dad had also attended the University of Denver and warned me not to date those flyboys from the Springs."

"He didn't say anything about marrying one of them," she says. And so began her life as a military spouse.

The life brings some real advantages, like opportunities to live abroad — her family got to live all around the US, Japan, and Germany — but it also comes with some downsides, like having to put your spouse's career over your own goals.

"Though we choose to marry someone in the military, we had career goals before we got married, and those didn't just disappear."

Career aspirations become more difficult to achieve, and progress comes with lots of starts and stops. After experiencing these unique challenges firsthand, Sue founded an organization to help other military spouses in similar situations.

Sue had gotten a degree in international relations because she wanted to pursue a career in diplomacy, but for fourteen years she wasn't able to make any headway — not until they moved back to the DC area. "Eighteen months later, many rejections later, it became apparent that this was going to be more challenging than I could ever imagine," she says.

Eighteen months is halfway through a typical assignment, and by then, most spouses are looking for their next assignment. "If I couldn't find a job in my own 'hometown' with multiple degrees and a great network, this didn't bode well for other military spouses," she says.

She's not wrong. Military spouses spend most of their lives moving with their partners, which means they're often far from family and other support networks. When they do find a job, they often make less than their civilian counterparts — and they're more likely to experience underemployment or unemployment. In fact, on some deployments, spouses are not even allowed to work.

Before the pandemic, military spouse unemployment was 22%. Since the pandemic, it's expected to rise to 35%.

Sue eventually found a job working at a military-focused nonprofit, and it helped her get the experience she needed to create her own dedicated military spouse program. She wrote a book and started saving up enough money to start the National Military Spouse Network (NMSN), which she founded in 2010 as the first organization of its kind.

"I founded the NMSN to help professional military spouses develop flexible careers they could perform from any location."

"Over the years, the program has expanded to include a free digital magazine, professional development events, drafting annual White Papers and organizing national and local advocacy to address the issues of most concern to the professional military spouse community," she says.

Not only was NMSN's mission important to Sue on a personal level she also saw it as part of something bigger than herself.

"Gone are the days when families can thrive on one salary. Like everyone else, most military families rely on two salaries to make ends meet. If a military spouse wants or needs to work, they should be able to," she says.

"When less than one percent of our population serves in the military," she continues, "we need to be able to not only recruit the best and the brightest but also retain them."

"We lose out as a nation when service members leave the force because their spouse is unable to find employment. We see it as a national security issue."

"The NMSN team has worked tirelessly to jumpstart the discussion and keep the challenges affecting military spouses top of mind. We have elevated the conversation to Congress and the White House," she continues. "I'm so proud of the fact that corporations, the government, and the general public are increasingly interested in the issues affecting military spouses and recognizing the employment roadblocks they unfairly have faced."

"We have collectively made other people care, and in doing so, we elevated the issues of military spouse unemployment to a national and global level," she adds. "In the process, we've also empowered military spouses to advocate for themselves and our community so that military spouse employment issues can continue to remain at the forefront."

Not only has NMSN become a sought-after leader in the military spouse employment space, but Sue has also seen the career she dreamed of materializing for herself. She was recently invited to participate in the public re-launch of Joining Forces, a White House initiative supporting military and veteran families, with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.

She has also had two of her recommendations for practical solutions introduced into legislation just this year. She was the first in the Air Force community to show leadership the power of social media to reach both their airmen and their military families.

That is why Sue is one of Tory Burch's "Empowered Women" this year. The $5,000 donation will be going to The Madeira School, a school that Sue herself attended when she was in high school because, she says, "the lessons I learned there as a student pretty much set the tone for my personal and professional life. It's so meaningful to know that the donation will go towards making a Madeira education more accessible to those who may not otherwise be able to afford it and providing them with a life-changing opportunity."

Most military children will move one to three times during high school so having a continuous four-year experience at one high school can be an important gift. After traveling for much of her formative years, Sue attended Madeira and found herself "in an environment that fostered confidence and empowerment. As young women, we were expected to have a voice and advocate not just for ourselves, but for those around us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!

4-year-old New Zealand boy and police share toys.

Sometimes the adorableness of small children is almost too much to take.

According to the New Zealand Police, a 4-year-old called the country's emergency number to report that he had some toys for them—and that's only the first cute thing to happen in this story.

After calling 111 (the New Zealand equivalent to 911), the preschooler told the "police lady" who answered the call that he had some toys for her. "Come over and see them!" he said to her.

The dispatcher asked where he was, and then the boy's father picked up. He explained that the kids' mother was sick and the boy had made the call while he was attending to the other child. After confirming that there was no emergency—all in a remarkably calm exchange—the call was ended. The whole exchange was so sweet and innocent.

But then it went to another level of wholesome. The dispatcher put out a call to the police units asking if anyone was available to go look at the 4-year-old's toys. And an officer responded in the affirmative as if this were a totally normal occurrence.

Keep Reading Show less