Lansing, MI - As low artic temperatures settle in around the state and a winter storm warning is in effect for much of the weekend, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) is reminding owners of some of the best ways to keep their animals warm and safe.
“While each individual animal tolerates the cold differently, animals that are young or elderly, short-coated, and/or have chronic health conditions can be more susceptible to frigid temperatures,” said State Veterinarian Nora Wineland, DVM, MS, DACVPM. “It is important to work with your veterinarian and know your animal’s limits in cold weather to prevent hypothermia, frostbite, and more.”
Keep animals safe from the cold by following these five easy tips:
- Give them Shelter: Bring animals indoors whenever possible or make sure they have a shelter with dry bedding.
Animals are vulnerable to freezing temperatures. It is recommended to keep pets inside as much as possible and limit their walk and bathroom time. For livestock and other outdoor animals, it is important to ensure they have access to a shelter with dry bedding if they need to get out of the elements.
- Let it Flow: Make sure an animal’s water source does not freeze.
No matter the temperature outside, animals need access to fresh drinkable water. If their water freezes, they can become dehydrated, and it can’t be assumed they will eat snow to get the water they need. Make sure to move water bowls inside, change the water frequently, or use tank heaters or heated buckets/bowls to keep the water flowing.
- Happy Paws: Check paws for injury and clean deicers from them.
Walking on cold, snowy surfaces can cause paw pads to crack or bleed. Also, deicers and other products used during wintertime can be toxic to pets. Applying a paw protectant can help to minimize injury and the absorption of chemicals. Wiping down your pet’s feet and legs when coming inside and using pet-safe deicers can also help to keep them safe.
- Need More Food?: Some animals may need more calories to maintain their body heat.
Keeping animals at a healthy weight throughout the winter is important for their overall health. Some animals may require a few extra calories to maintain their body heat—especially if they spend time outdoors. To help determine an animal’s specific nutritional needs during cold weather, contact your veterinarian.
- Quick Clean Up: Thoroughly clean areas where antifreeze may have spilled.
Antifreeze contains the chemical ethylene glycol, which is extremely hazardous to animals. Be sure to thoroughly clean any area where antifreeze has spilled from a vehicle and keep containers of the fluid out of their reach.
Following these tips can help keep your animals comfortable and safe through any cold snap. If there are any concerns about your animals’ health either now or throughout the winter, please talk to your veterinarian.