Humane Society urging pet owners to keep animals warm
Kennewick, Wash. - The United States Humane Society is urging pet owners to take extra precautions to make sure animals are safe during the cold winter weather in Oregon and Washington.
The Humane Society says the best way to avoid a harmful winter, is to keep your dog or cat inside with you and your family. The organization also points out that leaving a domestic animal outside during extreme cold can also violate state or local animal cruelty laws.
To help keep your pet safe during the colder months, here are some guidelines the Humane Society Suggests:
- Don't leave pets outdoors when the temperature drops. Dogs and cats are safer indoors, except when taken out for supervised exercise. Regardless of the season, cats and very young or old dogs with short hair should never be left outside. Short-coated dogs should wear a sweater during walks.
- Pets who spend time outdoors need more food in the winter because keeping warm depletes energy. If you keep a water bowl outside, routinely check to make certain the water is fresh and unfrozen. Use plastic food and water bowls rather than metal for any outside food or water bowls; when the temperature is low, your pet's tongue can stick and freeze to metal. Heated plastic pet water bowls are also an option to keep water from freezing when your pets must be outdoors.
- Warm engines in parked cars can attract cats and small wildlife who may crawl up under the hood. To avoid injuring any hidden animals, bang on your car's hood to scare them away before starting your engine.
- The salt and other chemicals used to melt snow and ice can irritate the pads of your pet's feet and may be harmful if ingested. Wipe their feet with a damp towel before your pet licks them to remove snow packed between your pet's paws. Pet-friendly ice melts are available at many pet supply stores across the nation or online.
- Traditional antifreeze is a deadly poison, but it has a sweet taste that can attract animals and children. Be certain that any antifreeze you buy or have put in your car contains a bitter agent that makes ingestion by pets and children less likely.
- No matter what the temperature, wind chill can threaten a pet's life. If your dog must spend significant time outdoors he/she must be protected by a dry, draft-free doghouse that is large enough to allow the dog to sit and lie down comfortably, but small enough to hold in his/her body heat. The floor should be raised a few inches off the ground and covered with cedar shavings or straw. The house should be turned to face away from the wind, and the doorway should be covered with waterproof burlap or heavy plastic.
- If you're feeding feral cats, be sure to provide an insulated shelter for them.