Protecting pets from the cold

Amy, a rat terrier at the West Point Clay County Animal Shelter is the perfect example of a dog that needs a warm place to stay with the upcoming below freezing nighttime temperatures.
Staff Writer

The West Point Clay County Animal Shelter urges pet owners to prepare for the cold weather that is in the forecast for the month of December.

"Dogs and cats do have fur coats," said Lisa Henley, director of the WPCCAS. "But, the pads of their feet are exposed and make direct contact with the cold ground. Dogs with short coats and small dogs need extra warmth."

Henley suggests moving dog houses to a protected part of the yard with the door facing south. The coldest air comes from the north and keeping the pet out of the north wind helps them retain warmth.

"Please put old blankets or hay in dog houses to help keep pets warm," Henley said. "I'll be honest, if its too cold for you to be outside it's too cold for a pet. Especially small dogs and short haired dogs. The smaller a dog is the harder it is to regulate their temperature in cold weather."

Henley said if the temperatures are below freezing, bring pets into the house to stay warm and dry. If that isn't feasible, make sure they have some sort of protection from the wind and the cold. A sturdy dog house with materials inside to help the pet stay warm is a must.

"Check their water to make sure it hasn't frozen," Henley said. "Pets still need water to drink and bowls of water can freeze outside. Pet food can freeze as well."

Henley said cats also need to be indoors if possible. If people are feeding feral cats, provide them a place on the south end of your house out of the wind.

“A large box with a blanket inside and a hole cut out so they can freely come and go is good," Henley said. "Several cats will pile in together and share their warmth."

Henley said cats like warm places, like car engines. If there are outside cats, Henley said please beat on the hood of the car and make noise before starting the engine.

Melanie Elmore of the West Point Clay County Animal Shelter, said the shelter would like to thank those who have adopted a list from the "Wishing Tree." There are still plenty of Christmas lists on the tree for the pets at the shelter.

"We can always use cat and dog beds," Elmore said. "All the animals love fleece blankets. We ask that you not donate comforters because the dogs and cats tear them apart and play in the stuffing. But old fleece blankets are great."

Henley said they have been moving kennels and lowering the tarps to keep the animals at the shelter warm.

"Remember, if it’s too cold for you, it’s probably too cold for your pet, so keep your animals inside," Henley said. "If left outdoors, pets can freeze, become disoriented, lost, stolen, injured or killed. In addition, don’t leave pets alone in a car during cold weather, as cars can act as refrigerators that hold in the cold and cause animals to freeze to death."