Pets need to be protected from weather

Bitter cold, wind can cause frostbite, hypothermia, death

Two chickens in Middle Grove huddle in front of a heat lamp to stay warm in the minus 11 degree temperatures at 5:30 this morning. Animals also need protection during these frigid temperatures, but care is needed when using alternative heat sources such as space heaters and heat lamps. (The Leader-Herald/Patricia Older)

GLOVERSVILLE — Although most animals have fur or feathers to help keep them warm; and some prefer to be outside, pets and other animals need to be kept warm and be protected during the harsh winter weather.

According to The Humane Society of the United States, wind chill is dangerous to pets and when exposed, they are at risk of frostbite and hypothermia.

“Limit outdoor time as much as possible,” said Christie Rust, of James A. Brennan Memorial Society animal shelter. She said not to leave pets outside unattended and, if possible, put a jacket on them to keep them warm.

According to the Humane Society of the United States, pets shouldn’t be left outside when the temperature drops. The site states “If your dog is outdoors much of the day for any reason, they must be protected by a dry, draft-free shelter that is large enough to allow them to move comfortably, but small enough to hold in body heat.” The doorway of the shelter should be covered with waterproof burlap or heavy plastic and the floor should be raised a few inches and covered with cedar shavings or straw.

According to the website, animals should also be fed more frequently because they use more energy when trying to keep warm. Pet owners may also want to consider switching metal food bowls with plastic ones because when temperatures drop, the pets’ tongues can stick to the metal bowls.

According to the Human Society of United States website, when it comes to caring for horses during the winter, be sure they have access to a barn or a three-sided run-in. Most horses, if allowed to develop a winter coat, are fine during the bitter cold weather as long as they have a place to get out of the wind or rain. Older equines or those with compromised immune systems, may need a horse blanket to help keep them warm and dry.

Horses should also have access to unfrozen water. Heated buckets or water heaters can help keep their water from freezing.

Cars can be hazardous to animals. Smal animals may be drawn to the warm engines and crawl under the hood. According to the website, antifreeze and salt are also extremely harmful to animals. Antifreeze is a deadly poison to animals and should be cleaned immediately if spilled at all.

Salt used on roads and sidewalks are harmful to pets if ingested. According to the site, pet owners should wipe their dog’s paws off after taking them for a walk. Pet owners should also store antifreeze and salt in a safe place that is out of reach.

“Protect their paws from salt and they should not digest salt,” Rust said. She said the salt could irritate them and if eaten, they could possibly get sick.

Pets left outside without food or shelter are at risk of hypothermia, frostbite and death. According to the Humane Society site, neglecting pets outside during frigid cold weather is considered a misdemeanour crime in all 50 states and Washington D.C.

“If someone believes an animal is being abused and neglected, call the New York State Police,” Rust said.