With Farmington’s recent bout of winter weather, residents have pulled out their coats and sweaters to deal with cold weather that’s swept through the region. Even when an arctic blast makes it’s way to Missouri, there’s always the option of staying inside a nice, warm house.
While most of us have prepared for the winter’s cold blast, you mustn’t forget about your four-legged friends, Whether they are outdoor pets and live in a dog house in the backyard or have a nice soft bed next to your favorite chair, you must also make sure they are protected from inclement weather.
According to Dr. Vicki Monnig with Farmington Animal Hospital, if you are a pet owner, the first thing you need to consider – especially if your pet usually lives outside – are the basic three essentials.
“Pets living outside during cold weather may need more food because they need the extra energy to keep their body temperatures up,” Monnig said. “If it’s below freezing, their water will freeze up, so it needs to be replaced at least a couple time of day, maybe even more than that.”
In addition to maintaining their food and water supply, Monnig also said pet owners need to make sure the pet’s shelter is preserved.
“Shelter is extremely important, especially when the weather gets colder and the winds pick up or it begins to snow,” Monnig said. “Your pet is going to need a sturdy house with some type of insulated material like straw, wood shavings, blankets or even a heating mat. Some may use heat lamps but they can also be dangerous. In general, I don’t recommend them.”
While most pet owners are aware of the effect of colder weather on outdoor pets, the colder weather can actually be harder on indoor pets, especially if they are a short-haired breed.
“Animals who live outside are used to the cold and can better tolerate the cold,” Monnig said. “Cold weather may be even worse on indoor pets, but a lot has to do with their coat. A great big Pyrenees will be more tolerant compared to a little short haired Dachshund.”
Monnig says indoor pets, especially if they are going to be out more than just a quick trip, may need a coat or a sweater.
Monnig did mention some warning signs to look for if you are worried your pet is having some adverse reaction to the cold.
“If your pet is lethargic, not very active, refuses to eat or is shivering – excessively shivering – you should tend to them like you do a human,” Monnig said. “Initially, get them inside and wrap them in a blanket. If they do not return to a regular state rather quickly, you should call your vet.”
Monnig added avoid using heating pads as they may cause burns to the animal.
Craig Vaughn is a reporter for the Farmington Press and can be reached at 573-518-3629 or at firstname.lastname@example.org