Not only do people have to take care to stay warm in weather like we experienced this week, but when the thermometer dips as low as it has recently we need to take extra care of our animals, too.
Any time the temps drop like the recent bout of freezing weather, animals should be brought inside whenever possible.
Their energy requirements go up exponentially as the temps drop. They require more fat and more carbs in their diet when the weather is that cold.
You can accomplish this by adding new foods slowly, adding things like macaroni and cheese, boiled eggs and cornbread mixed sparingly into a dog’s diet to bulk them up in cold weather.
Alaskan sled dogs are fed whale blubber (fat) to keep them in top condition to survive arctic weather. Even those kinds of dogs, Huskies and Great Pyrenees who live here are unaccustomed to this weather, just like we are, and they should be treated just the same as a short-haired dog in these cases of extreme weather.
Animals should have plenty of water. Their bowls should be replenished often because the water left in them will refreeze within thirty minutes, and little creeks and streams that they might have normally gotten water from will also be frozen.
Experts recommend that if animals cannot be brought inside the house, bring them into the garage or a shelter or shed, preferably in buildings that are off the ground and insulated underneath with hay or some other dry material.
The danger is that people will put heat lamps in their kennels and the animals will chew the cords and get electrocuted. If that is the only way to protect your animals from the brutal cold, be sure to read and follow the manufacturers directions carefully, and take all precautions when using heat lamps.
It’s also important that they be kept in areas that are free from drafts when possible.
Even large animals in our climate need extra attention. If kept in a stall, horses can be covered with blankets to ward off the cold. Special attention should be given to any weak or young animals. Sometimes cows deliver calves in this weather that have their ears and tails frozen. If you have calves being born in this kind of extreme cold, you need to check on them a couple of times each night.
Veterinarians often treat dogs with frozen pads. If your dog exhibits bleeding or swollen pads due to cold weather you should not put the animals foot into hot water. Experts suggest taking a cloth that has been dipped in warm water and gently massaging the area to get the circulation going.
Even caged rabbits should be moved to an inside area. Rabbits need to be kept warm and dry and are extra sensitive to changes in their diet. If you have baby rabbits, you can lose a whole brood when temps fall as low as they did this week, so be careful with them just like any other animal.
Common sense can take care of most requirements when it's your pet. Just be sure that you remember these tips for making sure your pet is safe during extreme weather events.