Cold Winter Weather affects animals, just as it does humans. Animals, like us, also need special care during cold, wet and stormy winter months.
Every year the SPCA investigates countless complaints about animals left unprotected during harsh weather conditions. Companion animals especially, may become seriously ill or even die from exposure to periods of freezing rain and rapid temperature changes.
When the temperature drops below freezing, pets, especially the small breeds and short haired dogs, should not be left outside for extended periods of time.
When taking one of these little dogs outside when it’s cold, it is a good idea to put a ‘sweater’ on him; he will certainly be more comfortable.
Never shave a long haired dog right down to the skin during the winter, it would be like you going outside in a summer swimsuit.
Also, be sure that if you bathe your dog in winter, he is completely dry before you let him outside. Do not subject him to chilling and icicles on his coat.
Cats also suffer when they are not protected from severe winter weather. Many cats in rural areas live outdoors, which is not necessarily cruel if they are provided with adequate shelter and nutrition.
When cats could can live in warm barns with the farm animals life is good, even in winter; but there are few such places available, and yet cats are still left outside to survive.
For those felines without a warm barn, a shelter similar to a dog house filled with straw would be quite comfortable for cats who are not ‘house cats’. Leaving an opening for them into a garage or shed, with a few old blankets provided inside would also be suitable.
These outdoor dwellers also need an adequate food supply to keep up their body temperature. A generous supply of dry cat food and fresh water will see them safely through the winter.
Never leave your cat or dog alone in a car during cold weather. Cars hold in the cold, thereby acting like refrigerators which could result in your pet freezing to death.
Also, be aware that cats like to seek warmth under vehicle hoods. If they are there and you start the engine the cat can be injured or killed by the motor’s fan. To prevent this from happening, knock on the hood of the vehicle or sound the horn before starting the motor. This should startle the cat enough to make leave its hiding place.
To be an outdoor dog, especially one kept on a chain, can be a harsh life at the best of times, but during cold winter months it is often a bleak existence.
These dogs must have adequate shelter and a constant supply of fresh water. The SPCA strongly recommends bringing your dog indoors, but if that is not possible, dogs that live outside need an insulated dog house, its entrance turned away from prevailing winds and filled with straw, not with blankets. Blankets will get wet and stay that way for a long time, or they can get wet and freeze, making a bed of ice for your dog to sleep on..
If your dog is chained, be sure you give it an opportunity to exercise and have some small pleasure to escape from long dreary days and nights.
Check your dog’s water dish often to make sure it is not frozen over. Plastic dishes are preferable to metal ones to prevent your dog’s tongue from sticking to the cold metal surface.
One easy to follow rule to care for your companion animals during the winter is to ask your self “what would I feel like in their place”?
Our animals suffer as much as we do from overexposure to winter conditions and inadequate care, but they have no choice, they depending on us to look after their needs.