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Winter pet care tips

Don't let your pet fall victim to the cold. Follow these safety tips to help prepare your pet for a safe, warm winter.

1. Limit your pet’s exposure to cold temperatures. Only thick-coated breeds of animals should be considered for outdoor living. Keep cats inside. Frostbite and hypothermia pose a threat to animals left unattended in the cold.

2. Age and health make a difference in your pet's ability to be outside in winter. Even if a thick-coated dog has lived outside in past winters, it should be examined and given the OK by a veterinarian.

3. Dogs must have a doghouse available when outside in the cold or if living inside an unheated garage. Provide straw or wood chips as bedding. Blankets are not acceptable as the condensation from the animal’s breathing and body heat will create moisture, causing the animals coat or skin to freeze to the blanket.

4. Fasten a heavy door flap to the top of the doghouse opening to keep out winds and drafts.  Face the opening of the house toward the south/southeast, away from the direction of the coldest winds.  When wind chills and temperatures reach minus 10 degrees, a doghouse is not enough protection for even thick-coated dogs. Bring them inside.
5. Increase the amount of food you give to animals living outside. They need 15 percent more calories for every 20-degree drop in temperature. Avoid using metal food bowls. Provide plenty of fresh unfrozen drinking water. Invest in a heated water bowl or bucket sold at animal supply stores. Secure containers for less spillage.
6. Any dog that is chained outside during the day must wear a nylon or leather collar. Tying with a choke collar or a chain directly to the neck is a violation of the animal care ordinance.  Keep current identification tags on your cats and dogs.
7. Report animal neglect seen inside the city by calling (260) 427-1244. Call the sheriff’s office for county animal concerns.

Source: Fort Wayne Animal Care & Control