Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Cold Weather and Pets - What to Know

With the onset of colder weather that has arrived in the area, the Overland Park Animal Control Unit would like to remind citizens that it is crucial to take extra precautions for the safety of their pets. The colder weather makes it harder for these animals to get along outside without proper protection. With proper planning and a few simple steps, we can assure the safety of our furry friends.

1. If they are a longer-haired breed, leave their coat longer as it acts as an insulator to the cold. If they are a shorter-haired breed, consider putting a sweater or similar item on them for added warmth.

2. Provide your animal with adequate shelter that is well insulated, dry and draft free. The floor should be elevated and covered with straw and large enough for the pet to turn around in, but small enough to retain your pets body heat. The entrance should be blocked from any type of breeze.

3. Provide your pet with more food for the added calories that it requires to be outside in the cold weather. The older the animal the more difficult it is for them to adapt to the cold.

4. Ensure that there is access to fresh water. Consider using a heated water bowl or have the water in an area that is less prone to freezing. Check this often.

5. Make sure the area your pet is remains free from snow or ice and allows them room to move freely with unobstructed access to food and water.

6. Be mindful that cats are particularly susceptible to the cold and will find anywhere warmer to curl up in. If there are outdoor cats in your neighborhood, bang loudly on the hood of your vehicle before starting it to give the cat a chance to escape.

7. Understand that certain types of rock salt can be very irritating to the paws of your pets, and some ice melts will even create wet areas that are not ideal for your pet to ingest. Make sure to dry off their fur and paws when they come inside to prevent the transfer of these chemicals when they lick their fur/paws. 

8. Keep an eye on your pets for any changes in behavior or movements if they are outside in the cold for a long periods of time. Take them to a veterinarian if you suspect they are ill or not recovering from the cold when back indoors.

9. Dogs and cats can be kept outside as long as their basic needs are being met. This includes the items listed above, food, adequate shelter and unfrozen water.

10. The City of Overland Park requires all owned dogs and cats to be registered. This helps us reunite the owner and the pet should it ever get lost or injured.