January is “Unchain a Dog Month,” and PETA is encouraging people to allow their best friends inside, where they are safest and happiest. Cold weather means extra hardship for “backyard” dogs. Dogs suffer from frostbite, exposure, and dehydration when water sources freeze. Chained or penned dogs often have nowhere to go to escape the cold and snow.
All dogs need nutritious food, fresh water, and sturdy roofs over their heads. But what they really crave is love, attention, and companionship from their human families, their pack. Scratches behind the ears, games of fetch, and walks around the block mean the world to them. Curling up next to you is their idea of heaven.
If you know someone with an outside dog, offer to play with the dog and take him or her for walks. Bring treats and toys—they mean so much to a dog who has little else to do. Make sure that he or she has adequate food, water, and shelter—all of which are required by law—and report neglect to authorities. Your call could mean the difference between life and death for an animal left outside in the cold.
Click here for more ways to help backyard dogs.
Help Battle “Old Man Winter”
- Allow animals inside, particularly puppies and kittens, elderly animals, small animals, and dogs with short hair, such as pointers, beagles, Rottweilers, pit bulls, and Dobermans. When they do go outside, short-haired animals will benefit from a cozy sweater or coat.
- Provide dogs who spend time outside with proper shelter. Ideally, doghouses should be made of wood (plastic doesn’t insulate as well, and metal conducts cold) and should be positioned in a sunny location during cold weather. Raise the house off the ground several inches, and put a flap over the door to keep out cold drafts. Use straw for bedding; rugs and blankets can get wet and freeze.
- Make sure that dog tethers are untangled and away from trees and objects that would prevent the animal from getting into a doghouse.
- Don’t allow your cat or dog to roam freely outdoors. During winter, 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 are also attracted to deadly antifreeze and can become disoriented when there is snow or ice on the ground. More animals are lost during the winter than during any other season.
- Increase animals’ food rations during winter (they are burning more calories to keep warm). Also, be sure that animals are free of internal parasites, which can rob them of vital nutrients.