With cold temperatures and snow predicted during the next few days, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is asking animal guardians to take measures to safeguard their furry friends.
Dogs and other animals, although equipped with fur coats, can still suffer from frostbite, exposure, and dehydration when water sources freeze. Cold weather spells extra hardship for "backyard" dogs, who often go without adequate food, water, shelter, or medical care.
"In nature, dogs would dig dens or otherwise find refuge from the elements,"
says PETA Cruelty Caseworker Dan Paden. "But chained or kenneled dogs often have nowhere to go to escape the cold and snow. We've received reports of dogs with frostbitten ears and noses, even dead dogs found frozen to the ground." PETA encourages neighbors and witnesses to get involved if they see a neglected animal. "Report it to authorities," urges Paden. "Concerned neighbors are often the only hope for these poor animals."
PETA offers these tips to protect animals from cold weather:
" Bring animals insideparticularly puppies and kittens, elderly animals, small animals, and dogs with short hair, including pointers, beagles, Rottweilers, pit bulls, and Dobermans. Short-haired animals will also benefit from a sweater or coat.
" Provide dogs with proper shelter. Doghouses should be made of wood (metal conducts cold) and positioned in a sunny location during cold weather. Raise the house off the ground several inches and put a flap over the door to keep out cold drafts. Use straw for beddingrugs and blankets can get wet and freeze.
" Don't allow your cat or dog to roam freely outdoors. During winter, cats sometimes climb up under the hoods of cars to be near warm engines and are killed or badly injured when the car is started. (To help prevent this, bang loudly on the hood of your car before starting the engine.) Animals can also become disoriented when there is snow or ice on the ground. More animals are lost during the winter than during any other season.
" Increase animals' food rations during winter (they are burning more calories to keep warm). Also, be sure that animals are free of internal parasites, which can rob them of vital nutrients.
" Clean off your dog's or cat's legs, feet, and stomach after she comes in from the snow. Salt and other chemicals can make her sick if she ingests them while cleaning herself.
" Provide a source of water for outdoor animals and wildlife (break the ice at least twice a day). Keep an eye out for strays, too. Bring unidentified animals inside until you can find their owner or take them to the animal shelter. If strays are wild or unapproachable, provide food, water, and shelter (stray cats will appreciate a small doghouse filled with warm bedding) and call the local humane society for assistance in humanely trapping them and getting them safely indoors.
For more information, visit HelpingAnimals.com.