Advocates Recommend Bringing Pets Inside During Rain and Cold

Published 5:46 pm Wednesday, December 27, 2023

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WASHINGTON PARISH, La. – As the cold and rainy season sets in across Washington Parish, local authorities, animal welfare organizations, and veterinary professionals are uniting to raise awareness about the importance of proper pet care during adverse weather conditions. With dropping temperatures and increased rainfall, pets face various health risks, and the community is being urged to take proactive measures for their safety.

Understanding the Risks: Pets, despite their fur, are vulnerable to the harsh winter elements. Exposure to cold and damp conditions can lead to hypothermia, a condition where the body loses heat faster than it can produce, leading to dangerously low body temperatures. Pets left outside in cold weather, especially those that are young, old, or have health conditions, are also at risk of frostbite.

Indoor Sheltering: The primary recommendation is to bring pets indoors. Inside the home, pets can stay warm and safe. For those unable to bring their pets inside, it’s crucial to provide a warm, dry, and insulated outdoor shelter. The shelter should be elevated off the ground, with the entrance facing away from the wind and covered with a flap to keep out drafts.

Proper Outdoor Sheltering: For outdoor pets, their shelter should be just large enough for them to stand up, turn around, and lie down comfortably. This size helps retain their body heat. The shelter should be lined with straw or bedding that is moisture-resistant and does not retain dampness like blankets or towels.

Food and Water Needs: Outdoor pets require more calories in the winter to generate body heat, so increasing their food intake, particularly protein, is essential. Water bowls should be checked regularly to prevent freezing and should be made of thick plastic or thermal materials to reduce the likelihood of freezing. Heated water bowls are an excellent option.

Health Checks and Grooming: Regular health checks are vital during this season. Pets’ paws should be inspected for signs of cold-weather injury, like cracked paw pads. Long-haired pets should be groomed properly to ensure their coats effectively insulate their bodies. However, avoid shaving down to the skin as this reduces their natural warmth.

Recognizing Distress Signs: Pet owners should be vigilant for signs of discomfort or distress in their pets, such as shivering, lethargy, disorientation, or reluctance to walk. These could be signs of hypothermia or frostbite and require immediate veterinary attention.

Legal Responsibilities and Community Support: Washington Parish authorities remind pet owners that neglecting to provide adequate shelter and care for pets in extreme weather can constitute animal neglect under local laws. Community members are encouraged to watch out for pets in their neighborhood and report any concerns of neglect to the authorities. Additionally, the local community can support animal shelters and rescue organizations, which often see an increase in demand during the winter months.

Support and Information: For more detailed information on pet care during cold and rainy weather, residents can contact the Washington Parish Animal Shelter or local veterinary offices. They offer resources and advice to help pet owners ensure their furry family members stay safe and comfortable.

About Timothy Holdiness

Timothy Holdiness is a native of Louisiana and has been published in several state, national and international publications. He has earned two undergraduate degrees in Biology, most recently from Northwestern State University in 2022. Notably, Holdiness was the 2014 Microsoft Office Specialist United States Champion in PowerPoint 2010.

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