So how can you ensure safety and comfort for your four-legged family members? Alabama Extension Specialist, Robert Spencer, has these tips and tricks on winter safety for outdoor pets.
Some people believe that an animal’s furry coat is sufficient enough to keep their pets healthy and safe in the cold winter months, but that isn’t always true. Some animals are naturally more suited for cold winter months, but many aren’t. According to Spencer, the ability for an animal to survive in below freezing temperatures depends on its coat. Animals without a substantial coat may need to come inside for the night.
The best way to keep outdoor animals safe in the winter is to keep them indoors, but if that isn’t an option, find ways to keep your furry friend safe from the harsh winter weather.
Be proactive and come up with a plan. Depending on your situation, it may take some time to create a safe place for your pet. According to Spencer, if purchasing or building some type of shelter is not a viable option, consider what type of outbuildings are available to offer modest protection from cold temperatures and precipitation. Lay out a bed of straw or hay to offer some type of insulation so the animals body temperature is not compromised by the cold ground.
Another option for your pet is to keep them inside of your garage. But, if it gets below freezing outside, lay out some blankets or towels for your pet to snuggle with. Their body heat will absorb right into the cold concrete floor. Also, be aware that animals love being around warmth. Make sure that your pet isn’t anywhere under or near your vehicle when you leave.
Animals expend more energy in the winter months by trying to keep warm, which means they need more food and water. If you have a problem with food and water freezing, try using plastic bowls instead of metal. Make sure drinking water does not remain frozen for more than a few hours.
Be aware of when it rains, snows or if your pet lives near a body of water. When wet, your furry family member loses all of its insulating, life-saving power from its coat. Immediately dry your pet off and keep it in a safe, warm environment until dry.
Another thing to be aware of is toxic chemicals. “Be aware of antifreeze or other toxic chemical spills, some have a sweet taste and can be appealing to pets, but very toxic,” said Spencer.
The bottom line is to use common sense, and never sacrifice the health of your pets for the ease of assumptions or the inconvenience it may bring to provide them with necessary warmth. So, if you have a pet, take time to ensure their comfort and overall well-being in what many are predicting to be a harsh winter.
For more information and other stories about pet safety, visit www.aces.edu.