Keeping pets safe in cold weather
by Elsie Hodnett
Dec 26, 2013 | 835 views |  0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Making sure you are protected against cold weather is important, not only for you but for outdoor pets as well.

“If it is cold out there for you, then it is cold out there for your pet as well,” Pell City Police Department Animal Control Officer Rose Ogden said.

Ogden said protection for you pet is essential, especially in cold weather, inclement weather such as rain and snow, and also from the wind.

Proper shelter for your pets from the wind and elements is essential. Some breeds of dogs with thicker coats are better able to handle colder temperatures, but they still need protection from the wind.

“Short-haired dog breeds, such as pit bulls and Boxers, small dogs such as Chihuahuas, young puppies and older animals all need more protection,” she said.

Ogden said dog crates, airline carriers and pet taxis are not proper dog houses.

“They are not constructed to keep an animal warm, they are constructed to keep the animal confined,” she said. “And roof covering only is not sufficient. A proper dog house needs three sides as well as a roof and adequate protection from the elements.”

Ogden recommends the pet shelter have an awning or covering at the entrance to block the wind and rain. It should be large enough for the dog to stand up, turn around and lie down comfortably, but small enough for the dog’s body heat to warm it sufficiently.

“Sheds are not sufficient protection because they are too large for the dog’s body heat to warm the enclosure,” she said.

Ogden said dog bedding such as blankets or straw must be checked and changed frequently. Wet blankets or wet straw do not provide any benefits.

“Some pet owners provide a heat source in the dog house, such as a heat lamp,” she said. “If you have a heat source in the dog house, make sure it is not too warm for your pet. I have seen people overheat a dog house and their dog wouldn’t go in it because it was too hot. Then the pet is still not properly protected.”

Ogden said outdoor cats will find protection from the elements; however it can cause problems if they go into a vehicle’s engine compartment for warmth.

“I suggest tapping the hood a couple times to alert the animal,” she said. “You don’t want to start your vehicle with an animal trapped inside it.”

Ogden said fresh water is important for all animals.

“Check the water bowls frequently to ensure they don’t ice over, or provide insulated bowls” she said.

Ogden said regularly grooming your pet can also help keep the animal’s coat smooth and provide better overall protection.

Melissa Hull, shelter manager for the Animal Shelter of Pell City Inc., said the shelter strongly discourages individuals from dropping off animals after hours due to extreme weather conditions.

“This includes after hours drop-offs and drop-offs when the shelter is not open,” she said. “Every attempt should be made to deliver the animal during normal business hours for the safety and well-being of the animal.”

Ogden said for further pet care tips visit www.aspca.org.

Contact Elsie Hodnett at ehodnett@dailyhome.com.