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Protect Furry Friends From Winter Weather

This article originally appeared on PETA Prime.

Although they are equipped with fur coats, dogs and other animals can still suffer from frostbite, exposure, and dehydration when water sources freeze. Cold temperatures mean extra hardship for “backyard” dogs, who often go without adequate food, water, shelter, or medical care. When the temperatures nosedive and you start piling on the layers, it’s also important to remember your wild neighbors.

  • Take animals inside. Puppies and kittens, elderly animals, small animals, and dogs with short hair, including pointers, beagles, pit bulls, Rottweilers, and Dobermans, are particularly susceptible to the elements. Short-haired animals will also benefit from warm sweaters or coats.
  • Don’t allow your cat or dog to roam freely outdoors. In cold weather, cats sometimes climb under the hoods of cars to be near warm engines and are badly injured or killed when the car is started. (To help prevent this, bang loudly on the hood of your car before starting the engine.) Animals can also become disoriented when there is snow or ice on the ground.
  • Increase animals’ food rations in cold weather. In cold weather, animals burn more calories to keep warm. Also, be sure that animals are free of internal parasites, which can rob them of vital nutrients.
  • Keep an eye out for strays. Take unidentified animals inside until you can find their guardians, or take them to an animal shelter. If strays are wild or unapproachable, provide food, water, and shelter (stray cats will appreciate a small doghouse filled with warm bedding), and call your local humane society for assistance in trapping them and getting them indoors.
  • Clean off your dogs’ or cats’ legs, feet, and stomachs after they come in from the snow. Salt and other chemicals can make animals sick if they are ingested while the animals are cleaning themselves.
  • When you see dogs left outdoors, provide them with proper shelter. Doghouses should be made of wood (metal is a poor insulator) and positioned in a sunny location during cold weather. Raise the house several inches off the ground, and put a flap over the door to keep out cold drafts. Use straw for bedding (rugs and blankets can get wet and freeze).
  • Provide a source of water for wildlife, who may have a difficult time finding drinking water during winter months. Break the ice at least twice a day.
  • Buy nontoxic antifreeze made with propylene glycol instead of ethylene glycol, which can kill animals even in small doses. Safe brands include Sierra and Prestone Lowtox. Animals are attracted to antifreeze for its sweetness, so clean up spills quickly, and buy brands with the bittering agent denatonium benzoate.
  • Give wildlife a boost. While it’s best to provide natural sources of food and shelter for birds by planting flowers and trees that produce seeds and berries, birds may need an extra boost during the winter, when they are burning extra calories to keep warm. Use a blend of seeds that includes oiled sunflower seeds, which are high in calories. Remember to stop the feeding when the weather warms up. An artificial food source causes wild animals to congregate in unnaturally large numbers in areas where they may be welcomed by some, but not others, and it can also make them easy targets for predators. Eventually, they may lose their ability to forage for food on their own entirely.
  • If you venture out to feed the ducks at a nearby pond or the gulls at the beach, do not feed them bread or corn. These foods don’t have enough nutritional value for wintertime eating. The best thing to feed ducks and gulls during the winter is dry dog or cat food. The birds love it, and the fat in it will help them stay warm as well as replenishing the water-repellent oil in their feathers.

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  • Sandy Middleton says:

    i’ve had animals all my life, and none ever were left out in the weather. I have 3 dogs, 2 cats that spend time outside in nice weather, but they are my pets and they “live” indoors as I do. I also feed everything that comes around. There are 8 skunks, 8 coons, an armadillo, and many possums. they’re great entertainment. And always have bird seed out. it breaks my heart to see how animals are treated, wish i could take them all. they need love and companionship as much as we do.

  • mousey says:

    Keeping your dog outdoors does not mean you love your dogs less, as long as they have warm, dry and sheltered bedding. I have a medium sized dog who has been in a kennel since a pup, she loves spending time in the house but she will take herself off up into her kennel and run when she has had enough. She loves people, dogs and cats….but oh gosh, her ‘house’ is in the garden ;-)

  • Pipistrelle says:

    I disagree with PETA on the issue of feeding wildlife only during the cold months. I agree with the RSPB (UK) that birds should be fed all year round. They do not become dependent upon ‘artificial’ food but it certainly makes their busy lives so much easier, particulralry during the winter but also in the spring when the adults are busy rearing and feeding a handful of young. So many gardens are now paved or fitted with decking, and even artificial lawns, that many of the normal feeding sites in gardens are being destroyed. Instead I would urge people to consider the wildlife when planning their garden – evergreen bushes for cover for ground forraging birds, hedgehogs and the like, piles of logs for insects and frogs to hide in, etc etc – and please keep feeding the birds all year round. Thanks!

  • Shelley says:

    Stop the cruelty to animals going to slaughter houses !!!!
    I watched Meat.org and cried my eyes out!! Paul Mc Cartney is right!!! Change the LAWS!!!!!!!!!!! This is horrible!! The animals are Gods creatures!!!! Change.org

  • bumblebee says:

    Cheri, I believe you’re being a little ignorant here about your dogs and their behaviour. You haven’t mentioned why you are intent on keeping them outside but you should at least provide them with one dog house each, if they want to sleep together it is up to them but how do you know they’re not cramped and frustrated at that set up? You breaking up the ice in the morning does not change the temperature, it is still freezing cold and your dogs still feel that. You say that they killed your other pet and you have put this down to normal dog-type behaviour, but not all dogs react in that way. They seem to be aggressive, I don’t know how/if you have taught them anything but to me that isn’t a sign of a happy dog. If you have taught them to be aggressive just because they are for your protection that is awful and not the way you treat a companion. How do you know they will not act like that with people if they have never really been around people? I would consider letting these dogs into your home, especially now with this weather, and I obviously do not know how you act with your dogs, if you give them love or affection more than just playing with them, but maybe you need to re-evaluate that too. It is ultimately your decision and your pets but I wouldn’t treat my pets in that way.

  • helen says:

    I have 3 indoor cats and an indoor dog. I also feed: 4 cats, 2 squirrels,1 oppossum, 1 fox, lots of birds and anyone needing food.one special cat for 3 years I have tried to bring in, I cry all winter, but he will not come in-he loves the great outdoors.

  • Colleen Fraser says:

    Cheri in speaking of her care of her dogs has entirely missed the point: why does she have dogs if they are not going to share her life inside? A dog’s basic nature is to live gregariously and share space with its guardian , not just at feeding time. The lack of compassion and seriousness Cherie displays about the attack and killing occurred of the poor, defenceless blue healer again illustrates she doesn’t understand her role in causing this. If anials do not learn to cohabit lovingly, of course their response will be that of a feral, guard dog.

    Unless she really loves these animals, and will bring them inside as companions, her obligation is to sek assistance in assuring they find proper, loving homes. REAL concern for them would be shown by one of these akternatives to the wrong that has been going on.

  • jacob12 says:

    My friend who grew up in Philadelphia (but now lives in Phoenix) told me I am committing animal cruelty because I have outdoor dogs (5) where I live out in a very remote area of the Arizona desert. I have 15 acres and I fenced off 1 acre to go around the house and to keep wild creatures from hurting my dogs. I have 3 dog houses for them that I stuff full of straw and a big water trough that I always keep full of water. During the winter I break up the ice in the morning as it gets cold in the high desert at night in the winter but it’s fairly warm during the day so the water stays melted then. I have 3 doggie houses for them outside because they create more body heat if they bunk together. I have Kong toys for them out in the yard and I throw the toys with them and play with them after I get home from work. Yes, they are watch dogs, but they are also my friends and I feed them well and if I hear them barking furiously during the night I get up & shoot the shot gun off a few times to scare away whatever is frightening them. My Philly friend says that I am committing animal cruelty because I do not keep them inside so that I would be part of their pack, and by keeping them outside I am putting them in danger of attacking me and me having to defend myself w/ a gun. I can never see that happening as they are not people aggressive. They did go pack recently on my little blue heeler that got out of her fenced-in dog run and they killed her – but it was dark and I didn’t see her and it was feeding time and I think that is why they attacked her. I was devastated to say the least, but I know they were just reacting in a dog-type manner. Due to economic times lately my pay has been cut, but I always make sure they have the proper amount of dog food and if there is money left after that I buy groceries for me. I was very upset with my friend saying what she did to me. If you think I am in any way mistreating or over-looking something in enriching my dog’s lives please let me know. Thanks. Cheri

  • JON KELLY says:

    remember the animals this time of the year!!!!!!

  • elke zeich says:

    protect each animal !

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