Winter has come with a vengeance, bringing frigid temperatures and the promise of precipitation. When blustery weather hits, adjusting a few of your daily habits can help protect your pet as well as other animals in your community. Add these five “Dos and Don’ts” to your winter safety routine:
- DO watch the thermometer. Although some animals are conditioned for cold weather, many are not. Whenever possible, bring all pets indoors when the temperature plummets below 20 degrees Fahrenheit. Animals with short hair, puppies and kittens, senior pets, and those that have a lowered immune system are most at risk and should be moved inside when the mercury drops below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
- DON’T forget to check under the hood. Cats love to warm up underneath the hood of a vehicle, as the residual heat from the engine burns off. Unfortunately, this method of warming up can have dangerous consequences, such as severe burns and other grave injuries. Always pound on the hood of your vehicle and do a quick visual check to wake a napping kitty before starting vehicles.
- DO winterize outdoor accommodations. If your livestock or a community cat or dog can’t be moved into a warm garage or basement, ensure that they have adequate protection against the elements. A winter-friendly outdoor shelter should have three enclosed sides, be raised off the ground, have heated water bowls to prevent freezing, and contain bedding, such as clean straw. The space should be big enough for the animal to lie down, stand and turn around, but small enough to help trap the heat.
- DON’T leave flames unattended. Pets gravitate toward warm spaces when they’re cold, just as humans do. If you have a working fireplace, wood stove, space heater, candles or other heat source, supervise your pet at all times to keep it at a safe distance from hot surfaces to avoid serious burns.
- DO pay attention to your pet’s grooming and health. An animal with a matted coat cannot keep itself warm! Long-haired pets, especially during heavy periods of shedding, need extra help maintaining a healthy coat. Senior pets also suffer from increased arthritis pain in the cold, so check with your veterinarian on how to keep your pet comfortable