Take care of our animal friends Featured

Contrary to the myth that pets are able to withstand the cold conditions of winter, Jamie Grant, director of Cleveland-Bolivar County Animal Shelter, revealed some of the risks cold weather poses pets.
Grant said, "While animals may not feel the colder temperatures quite as dramatically as we do, they are definitely affected by it.
"Each year we hear of at least one animal locally that passed away due to exposure to the elements and one death like that is one too many. Dogs and cats can suffer from hypothermia and frostbite, just like people. If their core body temperatures drop too low, they can and will die."
Grant added the size, age and breed all help determine a pet’s tolerance for the cold weather.
Grant said, "Cold weather breeds such as huskies and malamutes are built for this type of weather and will respond better to it. However, shorter coated breeds and smaller breeds such as Chihuahuas and dachshunds, will not tolerate colder temperatures as well. They simply do not retain body heat as well.
"However, larger dogs with less body fat such as Whippets and Greyhounds will not tolerate colder temperatures well either."
She said the cold weather could affect pets with medical conditions, such as arthritis, causing older dogs and cats to become stiffer and have more difficulty moving.
"Staying warm and having a comfortable place to rest is key to your pet's comfort. Also, talking to their veterinarian about veterinarian approved pain medicine can help get them through the colder months. Never give your pet unprescribed pain medicine, as many are only approved for certain animals, for people only, or very specific dosages by weight.”
For owners who walk their dogs regularly, Grant suggested shortening those walks for smaller and older dogs.
"Watch them for signs of discomfort such as shivering or anxious behavior as your cue to get them back home. Sweaters and coats are great for walks but do not leave them on when you aren’t home as they can pose a strangulation risk," explained Grant.
Grant said it is ideal for pet owners to bring their pets inside during the coldest parts of the day or night.
However, if it is not possible to bring your pets in, she said adequate shelter is a necessity.
"Doghouses should face away from the direction of the wind and have hay or shavings inside of it. Blankets are not adequate for most pets as they get wet and stay wet far longer than hay or shavings."
If a dog stays in a pen, Grant suggested owners wrap the sides and top with tarps and bungees to block wind.
"Putting a pallet or wood underneath the dog pen would also elevate it off the ground and keep the dog warmer inside. Heat lamps are also a great source of warmth as long as you keep the cord away from where they could chew it," explained Grant.
Grant also said animals should be given extra food during the cold weather, as they are burning more calories staying warm.
"Feeding a high quality food will also help as well. Check water multiple times a day to make sure it has not frozen over," said Grant.
For indoor pets, Grant said those that spend their time on the floor might be susceptible to drafts and colder floor temperatures.
"Make sure they have a warm place to (lay) down and stay cozy.”
Grant said people may call the Cleveland-Bolivar County Animal Shelter at 662-845-1155, if they see a pet with inadequate shelter in Cleveland.
"Otherwise, call your local law enforcement to report it. Adequate shelter is an enforceable law and a right to every outdoor animal," said Grant.

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