Tips for safeguarding animals during winter weather

Wednesday, January 2, 2013 - 4:12pm

Cold weather spells extra hardship for backyard dogs who often go without adequate food, water, shelter, or veterinary care, and it can also pose challenges for wildlife.

Although they are equipped with fur coats, dogs and other animals can still suffer from frostbite and exposure, and they can become dehydrated when water sources freeze.

In order to protect your animals this winter season, here are some tips to follow:

Keep animals indoors. This is absolutely critical when it comes to puppies and kittens, elderly animals, small animals, and dogs with short hair, including pointers, beagles, pit bulls, tottweilers, and doberman pinschers.

Short-haired animals will also benefit from a warm sweater or a coat on walks.

Don't allow your cat or dog to roam outdoors.

During winter, cats sometimes climb under the hoods of cars to be near warm engines and are badly injured or killed when the car is started.

Wipe off your dogs' or cats' legs, feet, and stomachs after they come in from the snow.

Salt and other chemicals can make your animals sick if they ingest them.

You should also increase animals' food rations during the winter because they burn more calories in an effort to stay warm.

Keep an eye out for stray animals.

Take unidentified animals indoors until you can find their guardians or take them to an animal shelter. If strays are skittish or otherwise, unapproachable, provide food and water and call your local humane society for assistance in trapping them and getting them indoors.

If you see animals left outside without shelter from the elements, please notify authorities.

During extreme winter weather, birds and other animals may have trouble finding food and water. Offer rations to wildlife who are caught in storms or white-outs by spreading birdseed on the ground.

Provide access to liquid water by filling a heavy water bowl and breaking the surface ice twice a day.

Remember to remove the food once the weather improves to encourage the animals to move on to warmer areas.
 

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