Harsh winter weather is in full effect this year, making it necessary to be more conscious of your pet’s (and those that are not yours too, like the stray cats in your neighborhood) exposure to the elements.
Just like humans, pets get cold.
For this reason, Hurricane Pets Rescue (HPR) has put together the below tips to keep pets safe and warm during the cold winter months.
- Please bring pets indoors or provide insulated shelters to protect them from the elements.
No pet should be left outside for long periods in below-freezing weather ever.
- Allow your pets to go outside ONLY to relieve themselves.
If you have an active pet, make sure to keep them on a leash, as pets can slip and fall and injure themselves.
Arthritic pets specially are at a higher risk of slipping and falling, not to mention that they may have a hard time just walking in the snow to begin with.
For arthritic pets you may want to provide other potty choices when snowing or when temperatures fall exceptionally low.
- Always keep pets on a leash, pets running off the leash can lose their scent in the snow and easily get lost.
- Seniors and young pets are more sensitive to extreme temperatures. Pets with diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, young pets (kittens and puppies) or hormonal imbalances do not regulate their body temperature well, keeping these animals warm always is imperative. Provide extra heating sources to keep them warn such as self-heating blankets and heating pads for them to lay on. But at the same time provide and area that is cool so if the he or she gets too hot they can move to a cooler section.
- Stray cats contrary to what some people believe, they cannot take care of themselves. THEY NEED YOU; GET INVOLVED AND HELP THEM! If stray cats are in your neighborhood, please provide shelter for them of some kind.
You can easily make insulated shelters for them with an inexpensive storage container or an old cooler, Styrofoam and hay.
Click on the link below for instructions on how to make a feral cat shelter: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sjvxvqSha7s
- Water will freeze in temperatures under 32 degrees.
If your pet is outdoors, it is imperative that you replenish its water source often (several times a day) or break the ice to expose fresh water. You can isolate the water to prevent it from freezing, farmer style with car tires or lawn mower tires (for small pets) like in this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ZzXZO1mrrA
In reference to the insulation that the above video uses inside the tire, instead of bubble wrap, you can use dark rocks in the inside of the tire, which will absorb more heat.
Another thing you can try are solar or heated water dishes, but they have mixed reviews.
- Increase your pet’s feeding amount and times, the extra calories will keep them warm.
- Dress your pets up for the cold, when going out for a walk.
In extreme cold or when the body is exposed to cold temperatures for long periods of time, reduced blood flow in some areas of the body can occur.
The combination of cold temperature and reduced blood flow can allow the tissues to freeze, causing severe tissue injury.
This is what is referred to as Frostbite: Frostbite is most likely to happen in body parts farthest from the heart and in tissues with a lot of exposed surface area, such as the ears, paws and tail.
- DO NOT shave your pets during the winter. Fur is essential to retain body heat and keep them warm.
- To avoid hypothermia, make sure your pet is completely dry before taking them out for a walk in the cold.
- After going for a walk always wipe your pets paws, limbs and belly before bringing them in the house to avoid ingestion of toxic salts, as well as other chemicals such as antifreeze. Always clean up spilled antifreeze, as it is very toxic and deadly to animals if ingested. Animals like the taste of antifreeze because it tastes sweet.
To protect your animals and strays from antifreeze poison, please switch to products made from propylene glycol, which is nontoxic and works just as well.
- Check your pet’s paws frequently for signs of cold-weather injury, such as cracked paw pads or bleeding and or sudden lameness.
This may be due to ice accumulation between his/her toes. Clipping your dog’s hairs in between the toes, will reduce the chance of ice ball accumulation.
- Dogs left outside specially in extreme cold temperatures, is not cool at all, we certainly do not recommend it and we are against it!
But if you must, you won’t, they do not let you, and there is no other choice, please provide appropriate shelter.
Doghouses – cat houses, must be made of a permanent structure, have waterproof roof and a lot of insulation, ample space for the dog or cat to be able to make normal postural movements, such as stand, lay down comfortable, sit, stretch, etc. The floor of the shelter should be always off the ground, to minimize heat loss into the ground.
Bedding should be thick, dry, and changed regularly, hay is recommended to be put under bedding, because it will stay dry and will mold.
The door to the shelter should be positioned away from drafts.
Cat shelters should have 2 doors to allow the cat from scaping in case of other predators. Doors to cat shelters should be on the opposite site from each other and not aligned with each other.
HPR does not recommend the use of heat lamps, space heaters as well as heating pads outside when they cannot be supervised because of the risk of fire.
Heating pads should also be avoided unless they can be closely monitored because they can cause burns.
Location, location, location!
Doghouses always need to be placed away from dirt, waste, and trash.
- NEVER EVER, leave your pets inside a car in cold weather.
In the winter, a car can act like a refrigerator trapping cold air inside.
- Collar and microchip your pets. As we mentioned above pets can become lost in winter because snow and ice can hide recognizable scents that might normally help your pet find his/her way back home. Make sure your pet has a well-fitting collar with up-to-date identification and contact information.
A microchip is a more permanent means of identification, but it is critical that you keep the registration up to date with your current information and alternate contact information.
As an extra precaution you can always write your phone number and the name of your pet on the pets belly with an indelible ink marker.
- Always bang the hood and fenders of your car before driving and before starting the engine. Cats (specially kittens) are likely to seek shelter and warmth in the engine of a car by hiding underneath the engine or the top of the tires under the fender.
We have a saying here at HPR: “KNOCK ON HOODS AND SAVE A LIFE”! See Pic:
Since your pets will be spending more time indoors, please take the time to “4 legged” child proof your home.
- Space Heaters and other heat sources.
Use space heaters with caution around pets, they cannot only burn your pet, but pets can tip them over and cause a fire.
- Make sure your space heater has the label showing that it is listed by a recognized testing laboratory and that the label on your heater has a UL symbol. THE UL LABER LOOKS LIKE THIS:
The UL Listed seal means that the product has been tested by UL to nationally recognized safety and sustainability standards. Additionally, it has been found to be free from a reasonably foreseeable risk of fire, electric shock in a Division 2 environment.
- Before using any space heater, read the manufacturer’s instructions and warning labels carefully. DO NOT BUY A SECONDHAND HEATER OR BORROW ONE THAT DOESN’T COME WITH THE HEATERS MANUAL.
- Inspect heaters for cracked or broken plugs or loose connections before each use. If frayed, worn or damaged, DO NOT use the heater.
- Never leave a space heater unattended.
- Turn it off when you are leaving a room or going to sleep.
- ALWAYS keep heaters away from pets.
- Space heaters are only meant to provide ONLY supplemental heat and should never be used to warm human or pet bedding, cook food, dry clothing, etc.
- Install smoke alarms on every room and make sure that they are working properly, if they are not working please replace them at once.
- Proper placement of space heaters is critical. Heaters must be kept at least 3 FEET away from anything that can burn, including papers, clothing, curtains, and rugs.
- Put heaters out of high traffic areas and doorways where they may pose a tripping hazard.
- Plug space heaters directly into a wall outlet.
DO NOT EVER use an extension cord or power strip, which could overheat and result in a fire.
- DO NOT plug any other electrical devices into the same outlet as the heater.
- Place space heaters on level, flat surfaces, ON THE FLOOR.
Never place heaters on cabinets, tables, furniture, or carpet, which can overheat and start a fire.
- Always unplug and safely store the heater when it is not in use.
- DO NOT EVER LEAVE A SPACE HEATER OR ANY OTHER HEAT SOURCE FOR THAT MATTER ON WHEN YOU LEAVE YOUR HOME.
- NEVER BLOCK ANY EXISTS, in case of fire you need exits clear so you can escape.
- NEVER USE CANDLES, BBQ GRILLS, ETC. TO WARM UP YOUR HOME.
- Check your furnace before the cold weather sets in to make sure is working efficiently and make sure to install carbon monoxide detectors.
- Stay away from frozen ponds, lakes, and other water sources.
Do not put you and your pet’s life in jeopardy, nobody knows how much weight the ice can support, if your pet breaks through the ice it could be deadly!
- Be alert and listen to your pets.
If your pet seems anxious, is whining, barking, shivering, stops moving or seems weak bring your pet indoors immediately to the warmest room in your home, your pet could be suffering from hypothermia or frostbite. Call your vet.
- Power outrages: Snowstorms, blizzards, etc., can bring power outages and can cause roads to be blocked.
Always be prepare and put together a disaster/emergency plan and medical kit, for your pets.
Have enough food, water, and medicine (including any prescription medications as well as heartworm and flea/tick preventives) on hand to get through at least 5 days.
HOW TO KEEP YOUR PETS WARM IF YOU LOOSE POWER.
- Close any blinds/curtains or put blankets or towels up to cover windows and provide insulation.
- Close off rooms to avoid losing heat.
- Stuff towels in cracks under doors and around windows.
- Dress your pets.
- Provide extra meals and fresh water. As we mentioned above, food provides energy to warm the body.
- Provide extra blankets.
- Put warm NOT hot water bottles next to their bodies and refill with warm water when the water in the bottle starts to cool off. Put the water bottle inside of a sock or the sleeve of a thin sweater to prevent burns. Make sure that the cap of the water bottle is tight to prevent the water from leaking.
- Never use towels, towels are cold!
- Move bird cages to prevent chill and irritation. Bird cages should be moved away from drafty windows and doors as well as space heaters and fireplaces. Smoke and vapors from a space heater can cause irritation to a bird’s respiratory system. As with small animals, cover your bird cage with blankets leaving a space for ventilation to keep the interior warm.
- Keep reptiles warm. Reptiles can be especially sensitive to decreasing temperatures. You can help them with heat packs for hands and feet that you can purchase at the store. Place the heat packs under the habitat just like you would an electric heating pad. Do not place the pack in the habitat.
- Consider taking your pet to a safe location.
Keeping your pet with a knowledgeable friend or family member while your home is without power is a great option if possible, especially if your pets are special needs, young, or seniors.
Make sure you give detailed instructions for care and contact information for their veterinarian in case of an emergency.
- Choose a pet-friendly option if you must leave your home.
If you have to evacuate your house, consider a pet-friendly hotel. Boarding may also be an option to keep your pets safe and warm while you are away from your home, but make sure you call in advance to ensure you have the vaccinations require.
- Never operate a generator inside your home or garage.
Keep generators at least 30 feet away from your home.
Do not plug generators directly into your home. DO NOT overload extension cords or power strips. Allow generators to cool before refueling.
Copyright © to Hurricane Pets Rescue Inc. (HPR)
All Rights Reserved. 2021