It is difficult to see all the images thrown at us online of domesticated pets freezing to death outside. What is even more heartbreaking is seeing it with our own eyes. Although many people do comply with obvious pet care standards by bringing their pets inside during the coldest of nights, so many of our neighbors do not. It is important to help spread the word to others about the importance of making sure these animals have a warm place to sleep. It is understood that some people will NOT bring their “outside” dog or cat indoors, but there are ways you can make sure they have a warm shelter whether inside or not.
Here are a couple tips on how to keep those pets warm this winter:
Food & Water. Outdoor pets will require more calories during cold weather to generate more body heat to help keep them warm. Some pet owners think it is helpful to keep their pet’s weight on the heavy side to help protect them from the cold, but this is not true. It is more important that they keep and maintain a healthy body condition. It is imperative that your pet has unlimited access to clean, non-frozen drinking water.
Shelter. Provide a warm, solid, dry structure that protects against gusts of winds. The floor of the shelter should be off the ground to help minimize loss of body heat. The door of the shelter should be positioned away from prevailing winds. Space heaters and heat lamps should be avoided because of risk of burns or fire. Exercise extreme caution when using heated pet mats which can also be capable of causing burns.
Bedding. Bedding should be thick, dry, and changed regularly to provide a warm, dry environment.
ID Tags. It is very easy for cats and dogs to become lost during the winter. If they are not in a fenced in yard, they may start wondering in hopes of finding adequate shelter. Be sure your pets have a microchip, and/or collar with identification tags in case they are picked up and brought to a rescue or shelter.
Cars. Cats will often find temporary shelter underneath a car, on a tire, or even under the hood. Make sure to check your car before starting the engine and driving away. A couple knocks on the hood should be enough to wake up a sleeping kitty. It is also important not to leave your pets in the car during the winter, just as it is during the summer. Cars can serve as a type of refrigerator and keep the cold inside. Remember that puppies and kittens have an even harder time adapting to cold weather than adults.
Even if you do not own any outside dogs or cats, you can still provide temporarily shelter for the stray pets in your neighborhood. Styrofoam coolers with dry bedding and a small hole cut for an opening, can provide a makeshift shelter for stray felines, and is very cost effective. Please speak out if you see a pet left in the cold. If we all do what we can, then more and more pets will be able to survive the harsh winter.
For more information please call Advanced Animal Care of Mt. Pleasant @ 843-884-9838.