Oh The Weather Outside Is Frightful…
Submitted by Officer Joe Stafford, Douglas County Animal Services Field Services Mgr. & Officer Lisa Massie
Animal Services, Field Services Supervisor
As winter rolls in, Douglas County Animal Services asks that you pause to consider the seasonal needs of your pets.
The most important winter safety tip to remember is to not leave your pets outside in the cold. Every year, we are saddened to learn of pets dying from exposure to frigid temperatures. When temperatures drop below freezing, it is most definitely time to bring pets inside.
If you don’t like having your pets loose in the house, you can still contain your pets within your house by using baby gates or setting up an enclosed room especially for them. Give your pets their favorite bed or a blanket to lie on, fresh water, food and a toy or two. If you pets are not use to being indoors gradually socialize them to behave appropriately indoors by using positive reinforcement. By using positive reinforcement techniques, your pet will soon fit in as a well-behaved member of the family.
It is essential to provide shelter for your dogs and cats when they’re outdoors, even if they sleep inside, so they have a dry place to retreat when the weather turns ugly. If your pet is outdoors for any length of time, be sure you have a heated water bowl so that his water does not freeze over. Also, ensure the shelter you provide is well insulated and provides complete protection from the elements.
If you normally allow your cat outdoors, we recommend that you bring him inside. In addition to the normal outdoor hazards such as– cars, other cats, wildlife, and disease – your cat could freeze if left outside in cold weather. Also, outdoor cats often seek shelter under the hoods of cars in the winter, and can get injured when the car starts. It is a good idea to bang on the hood of your car so any animals can escape before the engine starts.
While your cat spends his winter inside, he’ll still get plenty of exercise and stimulation if you provide him with a new toy and opportunities to explore. If possible, set up a perching platform or put a cat bed by a window, so he can still observe the outside world.
Despite the weather, your dogs will still need plenty of exercise. Walks are always good activities during the winter. Another important thing to remember is that dogs can lose their footing on snow or ice, so don’t let your pup off the leash while on your walk.
Many pets are sensitive to the cold, and should go outside only to use the bathroom. If you have a puppy, kitten, injured, ill or senior animal, remember that they’re more susceptible to cold weather. It is essential to not leave any pet in a vehicle. The vehicle can act as a refrigerator during cold weather resulting in tragedy.
Finally, don’t forget that antifreeze is lethal to pets, even if only a tiny bit is ingested. Its sweet smell is very attractive to pets, so make sure containers are stored securely out of reach and clean up any spills immediately.
The dedicated staff of Douglas County Animal Services wishes you and your pets a safe and enjoyable winter season. If you would like additional information or to report a pet out left outside during inclement weather please call 303-660-7529.