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Cold Weather Tips for Your Pets

Nov 19, 2014

If you see an animal outdoors suffering in the cold weather, please call PCAPS immediately at 672-2440.  City, County, and State laws require owners provide proper care for their animals.  Pet owners will be ticketed or have their animals impounded if they fail to provide proper food, water, shelter, or medical care. 

 

Colder weather requires special care for outside pets.  Peoria County Animal Protection Services reminds pet owners to ensure their outdoor animals get all they need to be safe and comfortable this winter.

 

  • Outdoor dogs need proper shelter consisting of a structure with four sides, a roof, a floor, and a door covering.  The house should be small enough to retain the animal’s body heat and just large enough for it to get in and lie down comfortably. 
  • Provide a windbreak, and use wood shavings or straw as bedding.  Don’t use blankets, rugs or towels because they retain moisture and will freeze causing more discomfort for the animal. 
  • When the temperature dips below ten degrees, bring your pet inside.  Although dogs and cats might survive temperatures that low, they suffer from the bad weather.
  • Pets need fresh water available at all times – snow doesn’t count!  And, be sure to feed more food because the extra calories help to keep them warm. 
  • Be careful of the salt used to melt snow, it can irritate your pet’s feet. 
  • Always be alert to spills of antifreeze – it tastes sweet and attracts animals, but is almost always deadly.

 

Were always talking about appropriate winter care for our dogs and cats, but our other companion animal - horses - need special care during the cold weather too.  Obviously, horses handle chilly temperatures better than dogs and cats, but paying attention to a few things will make winter more comfortable for your equine.  Equine veterinarians advise:

 

  • Most horses thrive in winter weather as long as they have access to ample water (not snow or ice), plenty of hay, and a simple shelter. 
  • Shelter can be as simple as a line of trees that provides a windbreak and barrier for driving rain or snow.  A three-sided shed gives the most protection from variable winds.
  • Horses use calories to maintain their body heat so its important to feed enough roughage to supply those calories.  And, horses will often eat more hay in colder temperatures because digestion of the roughage releases heat and helps to keep them warm as well.
  • Youll often see horses moving around to get warm.  Their winter coats insulate them from most wind and moisture but when they get moving, theyre doing it to generate some heat. 
  • To blanket or not to blanket - the question is bandied about by horse owners everywhere.  Experts agree however, that if your horse has a good winter coat, receives plenty of roughage and water, and has enough room to move around to get warm, blanketing is not necessary - and may even cause problems. 
  • Blanketed horses can develop sores from rubbing or even skin problems if they sweat and cant dry out completely.  If you do blanket your horse, be sure to check him out thoroughly every other day or so to catch any developing problems.
  • One of the biggests threats to horses in the winter is ice - keep an eye out for icy patches that can cause slips and falls.  Use salt mixed with sawdust to melt the snow and absorb the moisture. 

 

For more information, contact PCAPS at 309-672-2440.

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