Cold weather pet protection becomes more important this time of year. Here in North Texas we got just a sprinkling of snow so far. But temps this weekend are forecasted to drop. And on Sunday into Monday, we’ll likely get snow. Wind chill makes it even more uncomfortable or even dangerous for our dogs and cats.
Outside animals like feral cats or stray dogs, suffer greatly. Housepets used to warm indoor temps need extra help, too. It seemed like a good time to remind everyone about cold weather pet protection.
COLD WEATHER PET PROTECTION
Here in Texas, the weather stays HOT HOT HOT well into November and December. Now it’s the first weeks of February, and it’s the coldest part of the year. For cats and dogs that will spend a lot of time outside during the cold winter months, it’s important to get ’em ready now.
It takes time for that winter coat to grow. And it’s not fair to the dog to expect him to “get hairy” overnight when the first frost freezes. The video below, from a past KXII-TV pet talk, still has good information with suggestions and cautions for prepping pets for the colder weather to come.
How do you get your dogs ready? Magical-Dawg always loved cold weather, and would stay out in the wind and wet if we’d let him. Karma-Kat, on the other paw, has a very good idea about how to stay comfy and already has the warmest spots staked out for snoozing in sunny puddles on the carpet. Or under the stained-glass lampshades.
Bravo has almost no fur, with just a thin harsh outer coat that offers little protection. Shadow-Pup also has some undercoat for insulation but also risks frostbite or worse if exposed to wind and cold for more than ten minutes or so.
Feral cats and community cats (those who roam neighborhoods without one special family) don’t have that luxury. They need extra help. Many of the tips, below, work equally well for creating safe outdoor spots for your dogs, too.
COLD WEATHER PET PRODUCTION FOR CATS
I wrote about keeping outdoor cats safe on this blog, and received lots of comments here and on Facebook. That discussion had more to do with choosing whether or not to allow cats out. But what if you have strays that refuse to come inside, or a feral colony you care for?
My colleague Louise Holton of Alley Cat Rescue shared some PAW-some tips with our Cat Writers Association group and gave me permission to also share it here. What are some other ways to help keep kitty safe? Many of these also apply to keeping outside dogs winterized and safe. Here’s Louise’s suggestions.
OUTDOOR PET SHELTERS
TIPS FOR WINTERIZING FERAL CAT COLONIES & COMMUNITY CATS
You should insulate the shelter with thick plastic or other material such as Mylar mentioned above to keep out wind and cold.
You could buy a dog house and modify it, blocking off part of the larger opening to make it smaller and therefore warmer inside for the cats.
Size should be approximately 3’ x 3 ’ and 2′ high.
Cats will cuddle together inside for warmth.
Build enough shelters so that around 6 cats can stay in each one.
Use straw for the bedding NOT HAY or blankets or towels.
It is safer to have 2 small openings for the cats to enter and be able to get away if danger presents itself. Put the openings on the side of the shelter that is protected from the wind. Two openings will give a chance at escape should a pesky raccoon for instance or any other animal try to enter the shelter.
Raise the shelter off the ground by placing it securely on bricks or on a wooden pallet. If left on the ground it will retain moisture and will rot.
Clean shelters each spring and autumn by replacing the bedding with fresh straw.
FIRST AID FOR FROSTBITE
This is an AUDIO FILE ONLY, an excerpt from my audiobook THE FIRST-AID COMPANION FOR DOGS AND CATS, forthcoming in early 2021. I figured folks could sure use the tips now–so feel free to share this with anyone who needs the help. The advice comes from veterinary emergency experts.
COLD WEATHER PET PROTECTION & PREPARATION
This is an older clip from my Pet Talk segment, but the information still applies. How do YOU keep your furry wonders safe in this BRRRRRRRRRRRR frigid weather? Do tell!
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