Around wintertime, the harsh weather conditions can propose challenges for people just trying to live their everyday lives. Scraping the ice off of your windshield, shoveling snow to clear a path, or simply warming your hands to allow the blood flow to return are some of the basics for surviving freezing temperatures. However, few of us stop and think about how the cold-weather conditions may be affecting our furry friends. Some people think, because they have a “fur coat”, that they’re in the clear, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Just as our pets should be especially cared for during hot summers, our pets also need special care and attention during the frigid cold of winter. If we do not care for our pets, who will? Here are some important safety tips for pet-owners that will help them get through the colder seasons.
In especially colder weather conditions, protecting animals that dwell outside is a must. Keeping animals in enclosed conditions and out of the cold sounds like a no-brainer, still, many pets die every year from being left in the elements. Cats or dogs especially should never be left outside when the temperature is freezing; when exposed, they are prone to frostbite and hypothermia just as humans are. Even in non-freezing temperatures, it is important to shield our animals from wind chill. Keeping them in enclosures that can retain their natural body heat is optimal if they are to be left outside; the shelter should be off the ground, weather-resistant, and the animal should be freely able to stand up and turn around. Additionally, various states have different regulations on standards of outdoor animal shelters, so be sure to check out the requirements for your own state.
With the dawn of the days of the Internet, taking precautions for our pets is consistently elevated in preventing the harsh effects of winter weather. Another safety tip for animals that brave the elements is gaining rising popularity: animal clothes. Despite the fashion-statement, simply putting a sweater on a cat or dog with exposed skin during freezing temperatures can limit the potential for skin-related issues such as frostbite.
Although it’s cold outside, our dogs still need exercise; yet there are dangers despite wind-chill that pose a threat to our animals’ health. Clothing our pets can be helpful, so why stop with a sweater? Also available for purchase, weather-resistant dog shoes protect our pup’s paws from the cold ground and snow when they go for their daily walks. This fashion-statement will not only protect the dog’s paws from the cold, but it can also prevent the absorption of rock salt used to melt snow; this is a harsh chemical that is highly dangerous to animals and must be used with caution around our pets. If pet shoes are not worn, the pads of their feet should be regularly cleaned to prevent consumption of dangerous chemicals.
Another issue that many pet-owners may not consider is the amount of exercise our animals get during colder seasons. During winter, our animals are significantly less active; therefore, it is imperative that their diet is adjusted accordingly. Just as humans, our pets burn fewer calories when they get less exercise. Over-feeding your animal to “fatten” them up during winter seasons is counterproductive to other health-related issues. It is also likely that outdoor pets will naturally eat more during colder weather to retain body heat. This is a fine balance that can be achieved by collaborating with your veterinarian to be sure your pet is well fed, yet healthy. In any case, monitoring your pets’ calorie-consumption during winter is important to consider. Of course, no matter the season, animals must be given adequate amounts of water at all times, so keep a close eye on that water dish!
Though it is important to care for our own pets during the winter season, there are many animals that need care and do not receive it. Being aware of animals in your neighborhood that may not be getting the attention they need and deserve is an important part of caring for our communities. When a pet is not adequately cared for, it is usually an issue of misinformation, not mal-intent. Politely informing neighbors of tips such as these can help save animals’ lives and spread knowledge of proper animal care. In cold weather conditions animals especially need our help; as pet-owners, it is our responsibility and duty to make sure our furry friends are well taken care of.