While families are lighting their fireplaces and people bundle up to go outside, animals, are left outside to fend for themselves as the temperature outside drops.
Some animals can adapt to the cold weather by growing in a new layer of fur to protect them from harsh wind or by burrowing into trees with each other for warmth, but other animals, such as stray dogs and cats, are unable to find enough warmth, along with a scarcity of food and clean water in the winter.
With temperatures reaching below freezing, pets and strays alike must be protected from weather that can fatally harm them.
According to a Huffington Post article, “Most temperatures below that, particularly 25 or below, are considered dangerous, and 20 degrees or lower are life-threatening.”
With this in mind and low temperatures encroaching, an active effort must be made to protect animals usually left outside.
For starters, when letting pets outside, ensure that they have proper protection from the elements like boots and jackets. Additionally, snow and sleet may stick more to animals with longer hair than shorter hair. To help remove the frost from their paws, prepare warm, not hot, water that will help soften the ice that accumulated on their paws.
Next, stay outside with a pet when allowing them to go to the restroom or play, since they will not be able to tell when they need to go inside. Limit animal’s outdoor time to what is comfortable for them.
Furthermore, when a pet comes inside, ensure that they are not wet or damp from snow, sleet, ice, or rain since this can penetrate deep layers of their fur that will keep them cold and can lead to mold.
While a pet will be safely inside for the majority of the winter, no one can be too careful when dealing with animals and the cold. According to PETA, over 30 dogs were left outside either on accident or purpose that resulted in the animals dying and freezing solid. Instances like this are reminders that pet safety, especially during winter, must be taken seriously.
For animals that are not a pet but also should not be left alone outside, there are a few options to help them.
First, if the room and funds are available to financially support the animal, , take the animal in and adopt it, but this is not feasible for everyone.
Furthermore, though animals have a hard time finding food in the winter, the chill will kill them faster than hunger or dehydration. To combat the cold, boxes with entrance hole cut in the side of them and stuffed with newspaper, for insulation, and blankets, for comfort, can be beneficial for helping animals stay alive, providing a shelter for the animal to stay warm in. If it is wet outside, use a plastic Tupperware container an air hole poked into it to protect animals from the harsh conditions. Though this solution is more durable, it is also more expensive.
Winter is a fun and enjoyable time when one can get out of the chill and warm up; unfortunately, animals do not have the same luxuries as humans, so remember when you are cold, they are cold.