Archive for Wednesday, November 28, 2001

Pets need attention during winter weather

November 28, 2001

The drop in temperatures during the winter months takes its toll on more than just humans.

Outside pets also feel the effects of the frigid temperatures.

So as the temperatures continue to fall, some extra pet care needs to be taken.

David Nottingham, Baldwin Junction Veterinary Clinic veterinarian, said it's important outside pets have proper shelter.

"There needs to be some sort of shelter that they can get into that's insulated, or at least out of the wind," Nottingham said.

Shelters, like dog houses, can be insulated with layers of straw or blankets, he said.

But just having proper shelter isn't going to cut it.

"There has to be fresh water that's not frozen," he said. "There needs to be that fresh water so they don't get dehydrated."

He said when the temperature is low enough, the water will freeze almost instantly. To avoid frozen water, Nottingham said to use heated pans.

Plenty of food is also important during the winter months.

Nottingham said not all animals will need as much, but the smaller, thinner animals will need to have more food because they don't have as much insulation as some larger animals.

"You just have to make sure they get plenty to eat," he said.

Pet sweaters will help keep outside animals warmer.

"When it's dry and not snowing, they help out a lot," he said. "It's just like wearing a coat."

Animals that spend all of their time outside have some advantage to the ones that are only outside for part of the time, Nottingham said.

"Those that go in and out can have more problems," he said. "The ones that are out for only a short time are fine. Those that are left out for several hours, like all day, get chilled, get cold and get hypothermia."

He said the animals that are outside only part of the time are not used to looking for shelter and will have a harder time keeping warm.

But even if animals spend all of their time outside, there will be times it will get too cold for them, even with proper shelter, Nottingham said.

"If it gets down below zero and there's the wind chill factor, you need to get them into a garage," he said. "Getting them in is the ideal thing."

He said pet care during the winter months isn't too difficult.

"A lot of it is good common sense," Nottingham said.

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