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.
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.
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.