Brrrr... It's Cold Outside!
Please don't let your pet fall victim to the cold. The following tips will help you prepare your pet for a safe and warm winter.
- Only thick coated breeds of dogs should be considered for outdoor living. Cats must always have access to the indoors and cannot be allowed to roam off your city or county property. It takes 3-6 weeks for your pet to grow a suitable winter coat. Keep the coat combed thoroughly. Damp, matted hair traps dirt and creates serious skin problems.
- Even if your pet has lived outside during past winters, take the pet to a veterinarian for a pre-season health checkup. Age and health make a difference in your pet's ability to remain outside in the cold.
- Raise your dog's house several inches off the ground to prevent moisture from seeping into the floor. Frame in the elevated area to prevent winds from gusting under the house.
- Relocate the house from its summer shaded area to a sunny winter spot. Set the house where there is grass or straw on the ground. It is a violation of the Fort Wayne Animal Care Ordinance to maintain an animal in an area of mud.
- Face the opening of the house toward the east or south, away from the direction of the coldest winds. When windchills and temperatures reach minus 10 degrees, a doghouse is not enough protection. Bring your pets inside.
- Place straw or cedar chips inside the doghouse for bedding. Do not use rugs or blankets -- they draw moisture. Hay is not suitable because it molds. Many of the local farm implement stores and garden centers carry bales of straw and free straw is available for animal bedding by calling our office at 427-1244. One bale should provide enough straw to change bedding several times throughout the season.
- Fasten a heavy door flap to the top of the door opening to keep out winds and drafts. It helps to create a snug inner room by placing a removable panel part way across the inside area, in back of the door opening.
- Increase the amount of food you give to pets living outside. They need 15% more calories for every 20 degree drop in temperature. Avoid metal bowls for outside feeding. Provide plenty of fresh unfrozen drinking water. Invest in a heated water bowl or bucket sold at pet supply or wild bird supply businesses. Secure the container for less spillage.
- Use a buckle collar on animals that are tied. Tying with a choke collar or any chain directly to the neck is a violation of the animal care ordinance. Chaining in this manner can cause open sores to the neck and creates a potential for strangulation.
- As always, be certain your pet wears a current rabies vaccination and current pet registration tag and ask your veterinarian about microchipping.
- If all of this seems like too much work, forget steps 1 -- 8. Train your pets and keep them inside!