Every summer I talk about the dangers the extreme Georgia heat poses to animals. I warn folks not to leave pets in parked cars and encourage them to offer shade and cool water to their pets.
But now we need to focus on the hazards of cold weather on animals. Extremely cold weather can be just as deadly for animals that stay outside as hot weather is during the summer.
I should know. I was practically frozen when I was just a tiny baby. Take my word for it: Cold weather is brutal on animals and should be taken seriously.
When we had such a frigid cold snap last week, I heard someone say animals should be fine outside because they wear fur coats. Sadly, that is not the case. Actually outside dogs could benefit from a warm coat or sweater.
Really low temperatures, even in Georgia, can be fatal to animals. In fact, there was a dog staying outside in Macon that did not survive the cold temperatures we recently had.
As much as I would prefer that animals stay inside during cold weather, I know that is not always possible. Even if pets cannot stay inside, they should be provided shelter to be protected from the elements.
The basic need of an outside pet during the cold temperatures is a waterproof and insulated house. It’s important that the house is raised off the ground on a platform or pallet to prevent water from coming in.
It’s also helpful that the house has a flap in the doorway to keep the cold out as long as you know your dog or cat is not afraid of it and will enter the house. A waterproof piece of burlap, heavy flexible plastic or even a car mat would make a good flap.
The house should be small enough to allow the pet’s body heat to help warm the space. Also layers of newspaper and duct tape make the perfect combination to use to insulate the inside of the house. Line the inside of the house with thick layers of newspaper, and tape it with sturdy duct tape. You’ll be surprised how much that will help keep the cold from penetrating the shelter.
Make sure you have a dry covering to serve as bedding on the bottom of the house. You may want to use a thick blanket, wood chips or both. Just make sure it stays dry.
While cats should stay inside, too, you may know of feral cats that need shelter. One of the best and inexpensive ways to provide a great house is to use a Styrofoam cooler insulated with newspaper.
Fill it with a warm blanket or shredded paper. Tape the top and bottom together, and turn it upside down. Cut a hole large enough for a cat to go through, and place it on a platform off the ground. It’s that simple.
If you can, please keep your pets inside. But if that’s not possible, please take action to make sure any outside animals have been protected from the cold. They’re depending on you to take care of them.
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