During the cold winter months, animals, both outdoor and indoor, are vulnerable against the cold winter elements. The United States Humane Society, which is the most effective and the biggest animal protection organization in the country, has important information that will help protect both pets and outdoor wildlife from the dangers of winter.
With freezing wind chills and icy temperatures, the sensitive parts of a dog’s anatomy, like the exposed areas on the nose and paw pads are susceptible to frostbite. The Humane Society recommends the use of booties for dogs who are walking longer distances out in the snow, and sweaters for smaller or hairless dogs. Another risk for dogs, is salt poisoning from the salt used to melt snow and ice on sidewalks, driveways and roads. When the dogs lick their paws after coming inside they can ingest the de-icing salt. Salt poisoning can lead to death if untreated. The de-icing salt also has the ability to irritate their paws. It is recommended dogs have their paws wiped off when returning inside.
Another poisoning risk for dogs and other animals that may be outside, is antifreeze. Antifreeze contains a chemical called ethylene glycol, which has a sweet smell and taste that attracts the animals. However, antifreeze is extremely dangerous, even in small amounts. One teaspoon of antifreeze is poisonous enough to kill a small seven- pound cat. In order to avoid any dangers, keep the antifreeze out of reach for all pets. Another way to prevent harm to pets, is the use of antifreeze that contains propylene glycol instead of ethylene glycol. Propylene glycol is much less harmful to animals if it was accidentally ingested.
With most pets, they have the luxury of returning inside to the warmth. However, outdoor pets, stray animals and wildlife are sometimes on left to battle the elements on their own. Cats and other small critters are often drawn to the warmth provided by cars and may crawl underneath the hood, or the gap between the car and the tire. To avoid harming the animals, a knock on the hood will scare them off and remove them from the danger of the car. However, if the animal appears young or injured, it may be appropriate see that the animal receives care. If someone has the resources and the kind heart, they may be able to make their own new furry friend.
Building cat shelters for stray and outdoor cats also provides safety and protection from the elements.
Even though they are used to life outdoors, winter can be dangerous for wildlife as well. During the first weeks of December, male deer rub the velvet off of their newly grown antlers on different trees. Due to early Christmas decorating, there have been situations where deer have been tangled up in Christmas lights. Christmas may be in the past for this winter season, but in the future, setting up the lights on the trees may be better suited for after the first week of December, when the deer are done scraping their antlers.
For those who have bird feeders, keeping them full of seeds provides a regular food source for the birds during a difficult winter. Providing the birds with water is also important, because water sources in the winter are scarce.
As the winter months’ pass by, many people will be doing what they can to stay warm and cozy. For indoor animals, staying warm is a bit more complicated than making some hot cocoa and bundling up. If individuals have the means to offer their support, it is important to make an effort to protect the vulnerable animal populations from the harsh temperatures and other complications that winter can bring.