Cold Weather Animal Care
Between our weekly snows and temperatures in the single-digits, winter has been brutal this year. For animals living outside, sometimes even their fur coats aren't enough to keep them alive. A few simple steps can help protect your animals during cold temperatures. Please review these cold weather tips and keep your pet safe:
• Keep pets inside. If animals can't be inside, provide a warm, comfortable place. Face shelter away from wind and provide a flap or door to help keep the animal's body heat inside.
• Bedding is essential. It insulates the animal from the snow and ice underneath the body and allows the animal to retain heat within the bedding. Straw is an inexpensive alternative.
• Cats may sleep under the hoods of cars to stay warm. If you have outdoor felines in your neighborhood, bang loudly on the car hood before starting the engine to give the cat a chance to escape or check under the hood before starting your car.
• When walking your pet, keep them on leashes; they can't rely on their sense of smell in the snow and may become lost.
• Wipe of your dog's paws, legs and stomach after being outdoors to remove any ice, salt or chemicals. Snow collecting between the toes of dogs can be very painful, and if large enough, obstruct blood flow to the toes. Help your pet remove these collections of snow while you are out walking. Dog boots would help eliminate this problem.
• Ice on walks is not only dangerous for us two-legged creatures, but for our four-legged friends as well. Slipping on the ice is of special concern for older dogs that may already be stiff due to arthritis.
• Outdoor pets need more calories to produce body heat so extra food and water must be provided. When the temperature is below freezing, you may need to increase calories by as much as 30%, depending on the pet and housing conditions. Provide your pet with fresh, unfrozen water at all times. Avoid stainless steel or metal bowls; instead, use heated buckets or bowls.
• Own a short-haired breed? Consider getting him a coat or sweater with a high collar or turtleneck with coverage from the base of the tail to the belly. For many dogs, this is regulation winter wear.
• Never leave your dog or cat alone in a car during cold weather. A car can act as a refrigerator in the winter, holding in the cold and causing the animal to freeze to death.
• Thin ice on lakes is hazardous for people and animals. Keep your pet away from lakes or other bodies of water which may have thin ice.
• A good common sense rule is if you need to bundle up from the cold, you also need to take steps to protect your pets. Animals are susceptible to hypothermia and are most likely to get it when they are wet. The signs of hypothermia are violent shivering followed by listlessness, apathy, a temperature below 97 degrees, and finally, collapse and coma. If you believe your pet is suffering from hypothermia, consult your veterinarian. Prevention is the best choice.
The dog pictured here is Oliver. Oliver is a sweetheart and chooses loving over treats. His owners left behind when they moved. He is available for adoption February 17. He is up to date on immunizations and will be neutered upon adoption or rescue. For more information on how you can adopt Oliver, visit him online at Pet Finder.
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