Preparing Pets for Winter

Trojan hiding behind pole

I recently was on a radio broadcast with (to listen to program click on link) Peaceful Planet Pets and one of the topics of discussion was the fact that folks were leaving their pets out while the Blizzard Draco came rolling through.

Using wolves as an excuse to leave dogs out in these types of weather conditions ignores the evolution between wild and domestic dogs.  Wolves have adapted to these types of conditions but our domestic dogs have adapted to living with us.

I lived in Alaska for two years and not all dogs are arctic breeds and can survive in those types of winter conditions.  My dogs were required to have covering for their feet because their paws could freeze to the ice, which can cause damage.  As well dogs and cats can get frost-bitten.  Even then I knew of sled dog owners when it hit zero and below brought their sled dogs in to keep them warm over the winter.  They could tell how cold it was by the number of dogs piled on the bed for warmth with their people.

Be prepared for winter conditions.  Please encourage pet parents to bring their animals in during the winter including their cats.  If the pets are not able to come in provide appropriate shelter out of the wind that contains bedding for warmth.  Provide unfrozen and clean water for them to drink.

I use to have a heated birth bath in the winter and it was fascinating to watch the variety of wild animals coming to drink heated fresh water.

If feral dogs and cats are in the area, encourage a temporary shelter so that they to can get out of the wind.  I can only imagine what these animals are thinking as they try to survive in conditions that are harsh for them and how many of them really just want to be safe, warm and fed.

Joyce Rheal is based in Southern Illinois and is a nationally certified pet care consultant, trainer, and the author of Preparing Your Pets for Emergencies and Disasters.