Quad-City Creatures By Heidi Dahms Foster, Prescott Valley, Arizona A local blog all about pets and pet activities in the quad-city area.PV, Prescott and beyond.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Don't forget your pet as weather gets colder
Heidi Dahms Foster
Your dog's house should be small enough to retain some heat.
It's hard to imagine that someone could sleep comfortably at night knowing that their pet was outside without adequate shelter, food and water. But it happens all the time.
Aside from the obvious cruelty of abandoning animals to the elements, many pet owners simply lack the information to protect the pets they love. Here are a few tips that may help you protect your pets as winter brings cold temperatures, moisture and wind.
The first to realize is that outdoor pets need more calories to support the extra energy they expend in cold weather. This means a quality food, and more of it. One of the things every pet owner should do habitually is to run your hands over your pet each day. That way you can assess weight (you should still be able to feel the ribs, but they should not stick out), skin condition, injuries, sore spots and insects. Many times I've found things that need attention through this daily inspection, because so many things can hide under hair. So check your dog every day in the winter, especially for weight loss.
Your outdoor dog's house should be weatherproof, both from above and from below. Make sure water cannot enter the bottom of the house if a puddle forms, and be sure bedding is dry. Good bedding for an outdoor house could be straw, which the dog can burrow into, or some kind of pet shavings. Olsen's stores in the Quad-cities carries a product called Ceda-Rest that I really like and use. It's cedar fiber bedding that absorbs moisture, repels insects, and insulates. Outdoor pet shelters also should be small enough to allow for some heat to accumulate - a huge house with an open door doesn't help much when the wind is blowing and temperatures go down. I like those "igloo" houses with the entryway, that allow the dog to go inside away from the wind. Your pet's shelter should face away from prevailing wind.
Water is crucial in the winter, as in summer. With freezing temperatures, you must thaw water at least twice each day. Our winters are cold enough to freeze water to a depth that dogs cannot break, and that won't thaw during a cold day.
Water, good food, and quality shelter will help your pet have a comfortable, healthy winter. But that said, and knowing how busy we all, remember: Out of sight, out of mind. Dogs in particular are social animals, and they crave our attention. It's so easy to leave that pet outside and just care for the basic needs, without ever spending any time with him. This is one reason for so many behavior-related problems.
Take a little time to play and care for your pet each day. You'll both be happier for it.