Friday, December 17, 2010

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Proper Care For Animals In Cold Weather
by Elsie Hodnett
St Clair Times

With cold weather upon us, animal control officers urge pet owners to take the proper precautions to safely care for their pets. “A general rule of thumb — if it’s too cold for you, most likely it is too cold for your pet,” said Pell City animal control officer Rose Ogden. Ogden said she has received several calls from individuals concerned about dogs on chains in yards. “Even if the dog has a doghouse, some days it is still too cold for the dogs to be outside,” she said. Ogden said some breeds of dogs are better protected from the cold than other breeds.“Short-haired breeds of dogs, and also puppies and older dogs won’t be able to handle the cold as well as long-haired healthy adult dogs,” she said. Ogden said short-haired dogs, puppies and older dogs should be brought inside when the temperature is below freezing.“Dogs do need exercise, but consider the dog’s age and length of coat when you let it out for exercise,” she said. “You can let it out for short periods of time.”Ogden said outside dogs should have a well-insulated doghouse. “There should be adequate room in the doghouse for the dog to turn around and lie down comfortably, but not so big that the dog’s body heat can’t keep the inside of the doghouse warm,” she said. “A large structure such as a shed is not adequate shelter, because the dog won’t be able to use its body heat to keep warm.” Ogden said dogs should have dry bedding at all times, especially if the weather is wet. “Blankets can be warm, but if the blanket gets wet it can cause more harm than good,” she said. Ogden said using a wooden pallet to raise the doghouse off the ground can help keep the doghouse drier. “Check your dog’s bedding regularly,” she said. Ogden said straw bedding can also be used, but owners should make sure to change the bedding if it gets wet or soiled.“Pet owners should also check their dog’s water bowls frequently, and remove any accumulation of ice,” she said. Ogden said a quick and inexpensive way to insulate a dog’s water bowl is to take a tire and place a bucket of water inside the tire. Then place small rocks around the bucket inside the tire.“The sun will heat the rocks and help keep the water from freezing,” she said. “But you should still check the water every time you check on your dog, especially in the mornings.”Ogden said this year she is focusing on educating the public and helping animals in need while their owners are gone for the day.“So far, everyone I have spoken with has been very cooperative,” she said. “If the animal is in immediate danger and I can’t locate the owner or provide for the animal until the owner is located, then the animal is taken to the Pell City Animal Shelter for temporary care until the owner is located."
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