Let'em Live Upstate

No Kill Town Meeting March 2nd, 2015

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Protect pets during the cold weather.


Let’em Live Upstate’s goal is to help save shelter pets and educate the public on the realities on the shelter system.  Intake numbers are always high during the cold months because people don’t think they can take care of their pets. We have some simple tips that will help you keep your pets and community animals safe during winter months.

Main points are to keep animals dry and out of wind and to make sure fresh, unfrozen water is available at all times. But here’s some more detail.

Generalized comments for any animal:


Keep animal and shelter/environment as dry as possible. Use straw instead of hay. Hay holds moisture and is not recommended. Try not to use blankets or anything that can hold moisture. Dry is very important.

Make sure there is fresh, not frozen water available at all times. Deep, wide dishes that are made of really thick plastic are best. Putting it in a sunny area helps. Purchasing an insulated dish or insulating the dish if possible helps. Don’t place water dishes in shelters.

Provide some type of shelter. Dog houses, home made community cat box, run-ins for larger animals such as livestock.

Watch out for antifreeze. Most made now with bitter smell and taste, but better to be safe. Poisonous to dogs and cats.


Cats in car engines, lookout for them, hit hood, check before starting cars.

Community cat colonies and outdoor cats, put together a cat house using old coolers or storage bins and straw. Many plans online for building your own but one diagram is displayed for you here.Shelter-for-feral-cats1-1024x781

Protecting pets in the winter. WYFF4 segment 1 (2/15/15)


Lots of fresh straw in doghouses

Elevate and stabilize dog houses using old pallets or concrete blocks to keep rain and snow from seeping in.

Cover openings with heavy plastic flaps, doormats, or a tarp to keep wind and rain out.

Put houses up against your own home to share warmth from the house and block wind. Obviously in a carport or garage is better if possible.

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De-icers in water troughs.

Sheds and run-ins for horses, donkeys, cows, goats and sheep to shield wind and rain

Large doghouses work for goats as well

Don’t blanket horses, try to avoid cloth products that hold moisture. Horses have a natural defense against cold weather within their fur. Blankets restrict the use of that natural defense.

Obviously bring animals in to barns and indoor arenas if possible.

Keep hooves/feet dry

Chickens and rabbit cages should be loosely covered by heavy plastic or tarps to help block wind. Bales of hay or heavy, empty feed bags duct taped together can also be stacked around or used to cover enclosures if a tarp is not available.

If heat lamps are used, use exterior grade extension cords and secure lamps to make sure they don’t hit the floor.

Let’em Live Upstate – Protecting pets is a community effort – WYFF4 Segment 2 (2/15/15)

 The Important thing to remember is cold and moisture are the enemy.  Use straw instead of hay for bedding because it repels moisture and double up to give pets a place to burrow in and get cozy.  Make sure shelters are sealed up to keep snow and rain out as best you can. To shield pets from the wind, use large blankets or tarps as a wind brake for livestock and put boxes or crates in the garage or carport for pets. Make sure livestock have a dry place to stand so their feet aren’t wet.  Use electric heated water bowls or insulate water bowls from freezing. You can also add powder electrolytes to water to supplement which you can pick up at Tractor Supply.  Use heat lamps but make sure to safely secure them so they don’t fall on the ground and catch fire. There are lots of DIY examples of these recommendations if you do a simple internet search.
If at all possible, pets should be brought inside especially over night.  Pay extra attention to young and elderly pets because their bodies are not equipped to survive the elements.  Keeping pets healthy and well fed is the best prevention but their are a lot of simple things you can do to help the pets around you. If you see a pet in your community that needs help, step up. If you are able, buy a bale of straw or dog house for a neighbor’s dog. Build cat shelters for feral colonies in the area. Pets are not just dogs and cats, they are horses, goats, chickens, rabbits, etc and it’s our duty as a community to protect them. If you would like to help or donate supplies, you can always contact us at letemliveupstate.org
Special thanks to Jennifer Land with Monroe’s Mighty Mission for input on this article and to Alley Cat Orphans for loaning a feral cat shelter used in our interviews.