Introducing "Frankie's Furry Friends:" Important Winter Weather Tips
Editor's Note: Connect-Bridgeport would like to introduce our newest blogger, Frankie Michelle Dennison, executive director for the Humane Society of Harrison County. In her debut blog, Dennison addresses the importance of proper pet care during the winter months.
We all know how cold the winter air feels on our human skin, so just imagine how an animal feels. But they can’t tell us when they have had enough. Here are a few tips to keep our pets healthy during these frigid cold temperatures.
Did you realize that pets can get frostbite and hypothermia? People think because they have fur, they are protected from the elements, but that is only half true. Much like children, pets can drop their body temperature quickly in this weather. Especially when they get wet due to snow and ice, and that includes their paw pads and ear tips, they become very susceptible to frostbite.
Dogs that are small, have short snouts, very young or old, and those that have low body fat have a difficult time maintaining their body temperature and may require a sweater and even booties. Also, the salt that is used to melt ice can irritate and burn the pads of our furry friends. You can buy pet-friendly salt at most retailers. Also, wipe off your pet's paws as they come into your house.
Even though we know some dogs do well in snow such as Huskies, they still require fresh, unfrozen water. Make sure to keep any other liquids such as antifreeze out of the way of cats and dogs. Cars may leak this more in winter, and since it being a fresh liquid and is sweet, it can attract an animal - with death as a potential side effect.
Do you warm up your car in the morning to help defrost it? Make sure to bang on your hood as stray or neighborhood cats will often crawl under the hood to enjoy the heat from the engine.
And let’s discuss those that leave their pets outside in winter. According to WV state code 61-8-19 (a) (1), it is unlawful for any person to intentionally, knowingly or recklessly, (C) Withhold; (i) Proper sustenance, including food or water; (ii) Shelter that protects from the elements of weather.
What is defined as protection from the elements? All vicinities have their own "standard" of shelter. At a bare minimum, it would be three walls and a roof with an opening. Some cities, such as Clarksburg, have reworded their codes to be stricter (such as no plastic barrels). If you see a neighbor’s dog and do not see shelter, food or water, please contact your local animal control, humane officer, city police or county sheriff. Offer the neighbors straw, or quietly leave a bale by the dog house. And make sure it is straw – not hay. Straw stays drier, provides more cushioning and stays cleaner than hay. Also do NOT use blankets. When blankets/fabric becomes wet – the animal will have a harder time retaining heat.