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Your Opinion: Winter care for outdoor pets

Your Opinion: Winter care for outdoor pets

December 5th, 2012 by Jennifer Tergin, Jefferson City in News

Dear Editor:

Winter can be a dangerous time for outdoor pets. If you have room in your home, bring your pets inside. Missouri winters are too cold for most dogs and cats to be left outdoors. Many will suffer from frost bite and hypothermia. If you are unable to bring them into your house make some space in the garage for them to sleep, out of the wind and weather. If it is too cold for you to be outside, then it is too cold for your pet to be outside!

When your pet is outside make sure that it has proper shelter. A dog house should be large enough for your dog to sit and lie down in, but small enough to keep in body heat. Always keep the doorway of the house faced away from the wind; a blanket or rug tacked over the door is a great wind blocker. And an old cooler can easily be converted into an insulated cat shelter by cutting a small door in the front, to one side.

Keep the house filled with straw. Never use blankets or towels, as they will absorb moisture and freeze. Straw is the best insulation for your pet's house, make sure there is plenty of it so they can nest in it. One bale of straw will cost $5 or less, and should be enough for the entire winter. Straw is available anywhere feed is sold.

Make sure your pets have plenty of food, and fresh water. Outdoor pets should be fed extra protein rich food when it is cold to help insulate their bodies. Puppy and kitten food is extra rich in protein and therefor a good winter food for pets of all ages. And ice does not equal water! Make sure you supply your pet with fresh water several times a day, as it will freeze rapidly and no longer be drinkable. You can buy heated water dishes for about $20 at Orschelns or Tractor Supply, they work great, but must be plugged in. If left with no water dogs will suffer from dehydration within 24 hours, and can die in two to three days.

If you see a pet in need please do something about it! Talk to the animal's owner or call your local authorities. If you are able to supply a house, straw or food to a neglected pet please do so. Please don't drive by and hope someone else will step in. Animals depend on us to take care of them, do not let them down!