As the holiday season approaches and temperatures start to drop, it's time to make cold-weather preparations for pets. We will share some safety tips to keep furry family members safe and healthy during colder days.
Keeping Pets Indoors During the Coldest Times
During cold weather, the ASPCA and AVMA recommend that all pets be moved indoors and stay inside most of the time. For pets moved indoors that usually stay outside, pet-proofing one's home and carefully watching the animal can prevent or catch problems early on.
Dogs who aren't used to living indoors may need to be housetrained and may need to stay in a crate when they cannot be supervised. The Humane Society of the United States offers excellent tips on its page on housetraining dogs and puppies.
Cats who typically live outside will need to be introduced to a litterbox. It can help to place them in the litter box and dig in the clean litter a bit. Be sure to place the litterbox in a quiet room, and show the cat where it's located. It may help to keep the cat in one indoor room on cold nights, with a litter box, food, water, and scratching post. Double-sided tape can help to discourage a cat from scratching furniture.
Tips for Pets Who Cannot Come Inside
Outdoor pets who cannot be moved inside need additional shelter considerations during the winter months. Pets require an insulated shelter that blocks wind and thick bedding to protect against the cold ground.
Heating elements such as heat lamps and space heaters must be used with caution and placed at a safe distance to prevent fires or burns from occurring. All pets, but especially those living outdoors, may need more food during the winter because they expend energy to stay warm.
Outdoor Activities and Staying Warm Indoors
It can help to schedule outdoor activities for the warmest time of day. Animals who are more sensitive to the cold may benefit from wearing sweaters, booties, and other protective clothing. The AVMA cautions that tolerance to cold weather varies depending on the individual animal, the length of their coat, age, and any health problems. As a general rule, if you feel cold outside, your pet likely feels cold as well.
Pets can still become chilly indoors, and some flooring types, such as tile, are colder. By providing various options for sleeping areas, pet owners can allow the pet to decide where to go based on how much warmth they need.
Like people, pets are prone to dry and irritated skin during the winter months. The ASPCA recommends reducing the frequency of baths during this time, as moving between cold temperatures outside and the dry, warm air indoors can exacerbate skin issues. Petroleum jelly may help to protect dry paw pads and keep them moisturized.
Helping Feral Cats During Cold Weather
In addition to helping owned pets, feral cats also need help at this time of year. Alleycat.org provides a list of types of suitable shelters for feral cats, from prebuilt options that can be ordered online to DIY projects: https://www.alleycat.org/resources/feral-cat-shelter-options-gallery/ Shelters similar to the ones suggested can be bought or built for outdoor dogs.
Owned outdoor cats and community cats often try to warm themselves in and around the engine department of cars, causing dangerous and often fatal burns. To help keep feral cats safe, drivers can bang on the vehicle's hood before starting the engine.
Please visit the AVMA, ASPCA, and Best Friends Animals Society's websites for more safety tips for winter weather.
Kittenpalooza and Bark Bowl Reminders
We are continuing our KittenPalooza adoption special until further notice. If you're looking for a feline furever friend, please fill out an adoption application on our website. It may take 24 to 48 hours for your application to be approved, but we will then send you an email to notify you of your application status. Once you receive that email, please give us a call at 334-821-3222 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to set up an appointment.
Our Bark Bowl events and fundraisers are ongoing! Please visit our website at leecountyhumane.org/shop to see the items we have for sale benefitting Bark Bowl, including Paws Up T-Shirts and stickers. We are also selling Domino's pizza cards through November 15th, and we have events going on all month. To see our events, visit leecountyhumane.org/events, and follow us on social media to see the latest updates.