With at least more two days of below-average temperatures and maybe some winter precipitation expected for the area, people have been reminded to take care of their pets, too.
But what does that really mean when it comes to falling temperatures and animals, especially small animals?
Petplan.com, a web-based pet insurance company, has developed a chart that shows potential risks for pets as temperatures fall.
Their chart breaks down the risks for small, medium and large animals in temperatures that range from 0 degrees Fahrenheit to 60 degrees. It also provides adjustments for wet weather, pets that are Northern breeds or have heavy coats and also for animals that have been acclimated to the cold.
State law requires owners to provide protection for pets in extreme weather. It also requires there to be food and fresh, drinkable water available. Outside shelters with at least three walls and a roof should be off the ground. You can also place dry straw for the inside of the dog house and put plastic tarps or straw bales around the dog house to further protect it.
Here are a few more cold weather tips from the Chatham County Animal Shelter:
▪ Bang on the hood of your car before starting it in the mornings to scare off cats or wild animals keeping warm inside.
▪ Dog houses that are too large for the dog don’t hold heat as well.
▪ Increase food portions because regulating temperature requires more energy. Use plastic food and water dishes instead of metal; when the temperature is low enough, your pet’s tongue can become stuck to metal.
▪ Pets get lost more easily and more often in winter because snow and ice on the ground can mask smells, making it difficult for them to find their way back home if lost. Make sure they have an ID on their collar and that they’re microchipped.
▪ Make sure your dog is groomed. Matted fur and other imperfections allow cold air to more easily reach the skin.
▪ If you’re using a garage as a shelter, make sure toxins (antifreeze, bleach, etc.) are out of the animal’s reach. Make sure they have a warm blanket or straw to lie on.
▪ Water is still important, even in freezing weather. Be sure the dog has fresh water at all times.
▪ Recognize the signs: If your pet is shivering, whining, anxious or unusually slow, they are at risk of hypothermia.
▪ In sub-zero temperature, pets should be brought indoors. For the rest of the winter, provide them with a dry, draft-free shelter that is large enough to allow them to sit and lie down comfortably, but small enough to conserve body heat. The floor should be raised a few inches off the ground and covered with cedar shavings or straw. Turn the shelter so it faces away from the wind and cover the doorway with waterproof burlap or heavy plastic.
▪ Pay attention to dogs’ paws. A pair of booties, a smear of paw protectant, or a spray of non-stick cooking spray can protect paws while they’re outdoors.
▪ If you walk your dog on salted streets or sidewalks this can cause chemical burns. Please make sure to rinse paws after a walk to prevent chemical burns.
▪ For large animals, provide shelter and dry bedding to insulate them. Ensure there’s plenty of food and water.