A dog out in the cold snow and ice.
Cold weather requires special attention when it comes to animals. Most animals will do quite well outside as long as you take a few precautions.
- Ensure that you provide adequate shelter. The best shelter is one that will be dry and protect them from the wind and drafts. Consider elevating the shelter a little so it doesn’t fill with snow or rain. Check the bedding regularly, and replace it if it is damp or wet. The shelter should be big enough for your animal to stand and turn around, but not so big that it will not retain body heat. Dry, clean bedding will help retain heat.
- Don’t take a pet which is used to being inside and suddenly put them outside all the time. Animals require a month or more to develop the coats that will help protect them from the outside cold. Also be mindful that animals with shorter fur may not be suitable for long stays outside; they were bred for warmer climates. Puppies and older dogs might not do well outside. Like in people, young and old are more vulnerable to temperature extremes.
- Monitor food and water intake. An animal that is outside or very active may require additional food, where an animal inside might require less than normal. Water left outside may freeze, so consider heated bowls or be sure to provide fresh water several times a day. If your animal is inside, it may require more water than normal to combat dry winter air.
- Keep identification on your animal and keep it current! Not only will this help you avoid a possible fine, but it will help your animal get back home if lost. Animals track by smell and during bad weather, animals can loose their ability to find their home. Be mindful of snow removal since piling snow in front of the fence provides an easy escape route.
- Cats sometimes sleep under the hood of a car. Bang on the hood of the car if you have outside cats in your area to give them a chance to leave before starting your car. Don’t leave any living being in a car during winter months. During the summer the car will heat up to dangerous temperatures. During the winter months, it can do the opposite and act like a refrigerator holding the cold in. Be especially careful with anti-freeze. Even very small amounts of ethylene glycol can be fatal. If you suspect an animal may have ingested anti-freeze, immediately get to your veterinarian. You may only have minutes before an antidote will no longer be effective.
During the winter months animals have more dangers than just the cold. The holidays can be dangerous for your pets and frustrating for you, but again a few precautions can make the holidays run smooth for you and your animal companion.
- Halloween means candy and lots of it, but sugar can be harmful to animals and chocolate can be fatal. Make sure Halloween candy is safely stored out of reach of your pets. If your pet does get a hold of candy, contact your veterinarian. Depending on the amount and type of candy and the size of the animal, medical treatment may be needed.
- Holidays generally include visitors. Be mindful that even though they may be a relative or close friend, to your pet they could be a stranger. Try offering your pet treats when a new visitor arrives so they will learn to associate visitors with good things. If your pet still has problems accepting the visitors, consider isolating them. They can avoid the stress of unknown visitors, and your visitors can feel safe. With many visitors coming and going, your pet is provided with many escape opportunities. Make sure you have identification on your animal and watch the door. Be sure to provide your pet with extra love and attention to let them know that even if you are busy, they have not been forgotten. Try an extra walk or a little more playtime. It’s a great way to give your pet the attention they need and it might help you to relieve some of the holiday stress.
- Holiday food can be very tempting for your pet and you might want to share. Be careful before sharing! Many foods can be harmful to your pets. Bones can cause choking problems and turkey or chicken bones may splinter and puncture the intestinal tract causing serious internal injury to your pet. Bones are not the only danger. Coffee, alcohols, fatty foods, onions, and even grapes or raisins can all be very dangerous or even fatal to your pet. Try providing a bowl of pet treats near the food. If you or a guest wants to share with your pet, you won’t be tempted to give them a human food that could make them ill. If you suspect your pet may have eaten something they shouldn’t have contact your veterinarian.
- Holiday plants and decorations can cause harm to your pets and frustration to you. Poinsettias, Mistletoe, Holly and Pine Trees are common holiday plants, but all are toxic to animals. If you have pets, consider using artificial plants or make sure the plants are out of reach to your pet. If using a live tree, clean up the needles frequently and keep your pet out of the water in the stand. It may contain preservatives or bacteria that will harm your pet. Make sure that the tree is securely anchored or a climbing cat or swinging dog tail might knock over your tree. All the many decorations that may be around your house and on your tree might look beautiful, but they might also look fun to play with to your pet. Tinsel and ribbon can cause a lot of damage to your pet’s digestive system if swallowed and may even require surgery to fix. Glass ornaments and the metal fasteners can easily be broken, stepped on or swallowed so make sure they are high enough your pet can not get them. Christmas lights and electrical cords can be especially dangerous to chewing animals causing fatal shocks and/or burns. Secure all cords out of reach and if possible out of sight of animals to avoid the dangers of electrocution.
- Open flames such as candles and fireplaces can be a serious burn hazard to warmth seeking pets. Not only could you have burned whiskers or fur, but not being careful could result in a house fire. Most animals are naturally attracted to heat and light, so use caution with fireplaces or candles.
Keeping proper identification on your animal is important all year round, but during the winter months it can be lifesaving. You can get licenses at the Rexburg Police Station for both dogs and cats. Getting the license and keeping it on your animal keeps you in compliance with city ordinances.
Vacationing during the winter months is quite common. Make sure you remember your pet when making plans. Sometimes it might be difficult to find lodging for your pet so plan well in advance. Sometimes traveling makes animals very nervous and a long trip might be too much. Decide whether it is better to bring your pets or leave them behind, and give yourself time to find a sitter or make sheltering arrangements. You are probably not the only one seeking these arrangements. Remember it is not ok to leave a pet in the car overnight if you can’t find a room for them. The car can act like a refrigerator trapping the cold in.
Permission for use may be obtained by contacting the Rexburg Police Department at:
25 East Main Street or Phone 208-359-3000
Rexburg, Idaho 83440 RPD@rexburg.org