Vets offer tips for caring for outside pets in cold temps

Published 5:08 pm Friday, January 6, 2017

Dr. George Wood, a veterinarian at Selma Animal Hospital, has a few tips for those with furry friends that primarily stay outside during cold weather.

“In this part of the world as long as your animal has something that they can get in something where they can retain their body heat, [they should be OK],” Wood said. “The main thing is just a place that they can get in where they can retain their body temperature.”

Wood suggested dog houses that are not too big for the dog, so the heat will stay inside. As for the bedding, he suggested not to use pine straw, as he’s seen skin irritation and infections but to use cedar shaving or simply blankets and towels.

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Although some pets are conditioned to cold weather, veterinary experts agree that you should bring outdoor pets indoors if the temperature drops below 20 degrees Fahrenheit.

“You can always bring them in at night and put them in a bed carrier,” Wood said. “If you’ve got a dog that’s normally not an inside dog, you can pick you up a pet carrier and bring them in and put them in the pet carrier and turn them loose during the day.”

Puppies, kittens, and short haired pets should come inside anytime the temperature goes below 40 degrees.

If your pet must stay outdoors, be sure to provide shelter for your pet.

A good shelter will have three enclosed sides, will be elevated off the ground, and will contain generous amounts of bedding.

“Putting bedding in there will also help with the retention of the body heating,” Wood said.

“If it gets really cold, some people will hang a light bulb in there and that light bulb will provide extra heat.”

The Alabama Veterinary Medical Association advised pet owners of the dangers of Antifreeze.

Antifreeze is a common and deadly pet poisoning during colder months.

If you suspect your pet has consumed any antifreeze at all, you must contact your veterinarian immediately.

Antifreeze has a sweet taste to pets, so they will readily lap up any spilled material.

If you spill antifreeze, dilute the area well with water and sweep excess water into a rocky or sandy area.

Cover area with soil to keep pets from licking at the rocks.

As far as feline friends, the association suggests to check for them before starting up a car.

Cats love to warm up underneath car hoods.

If a car is kept outdoors, or if cats have access to a garage, be sure to pound on the hood of the car prior to starting it.

Many cats are killed or injured grievously by fan belts and moving engine parts.

Keeping cats warm outside is also something owners should try to do during the extreme cold.

“Cats are going to seek a place where they can stay warm pretty much on their own, but provide them some containers that are small enough they can crawl up in, and again, appropriate size where they can retain their body heat,” Wood said. “When it comes to other animals and horses, just make sure they have shelter, just make sure they have somewhere that they can get out of the weather.”

Wood said to make sure they have food and water, and that the water isn’t frozen.

“Just spend a little time in preparation, just remember that you don’t like to have your bedroom window open when it’s 24 degrees outside.”