As I sit writing from my office at Found Animals Foundation, the weather in Los Angeles is a balmy 75 degrees with clear, sunny skies. But as the calendar advances into fall, I know that in much of the country, the weather is starting to turn nasty. Some of the U.S. has been experiencing unusually heavy rains and flooding, and the severe storms of last spring are not far from the minds of others, as they are still picking up the pieces of and rebuilding damaged property. Mother Nature has demonstrated time and again that she can unleash her wrath at any time, so here are a few tips we can use to prepare ourselves, and our pets, for a season of inclement weather.
1. If it’s too nasty for you to be outside, it’s too nasty for your pet
Domestic pets do not have inherent mechanisms to protect them from the elements any more than we do. Bring house pets inside and make sure livestock has adequate shelter from cold, wind, rain, ice and snow outside.
2. Beware toxic chemicals
Where there’s ice, there’s antifreeze. This is highly poisonous to pets and the neon green puddles can be tempting for pets to try to drink from when all other water is frozen. Likewise, de-icers such as salt and other chemicals can be harmful to pets who walk on ground that has been “de-iced” and later lick their paws, ingesting the toxins. If your pet has been exposed to de-icers, make sure to rinse his paws in warm water to clean them off.
3. Dehydration can happen in winter, too
If your pet relies on an outside water source, make sure you have a way to keep it from freezing. Pets cannot get sufficient water from eating snow.
4. Protect the feet
Ice loves to cling to hair and fur. Keep your furry-footed friend’s paw hair neatly trimmed, and if your pet has been outside, inspect his paws for ice balls.
5. Be aware of heated “hiding places”
It is not uncommon for cats and other small animals to burrow next to the warm engine of a parked car. Before you start your car, knock on the hood or honk the horn a few times to scare away stowaways — you will be saving their lives.
6. Remember that animal joints also respond to cooler temperature
If you have an older pet, he can be experiencing increased discomfort during cold weather as well. Make sure you handle your pets extra carefully and diligently keep up medications during cold snaps.
7. Prepare your pet’s emergency kit
In the event that you have to evacuate, make sure you have all your pet’s necessities packed and ready. This should include food, water, litter, medication, towels, blankets, and maybe a favorite toy for comforting your pet. Additionally, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to have a recent picture of your pet with you in case you get separated. Many times, pets are not allowed with their owners at evacuation shelters so have a plan for this ahead of time, too. Research local pet-friendly hotels or make arrangements to stay with a friend or family member who lives in a safe area.
The most important thing you can do for your pet, at any time, is to make sure his identification is up to date.
He should be microchipped and registered with your current phone number, and his license and tags should reflect your current address. When you move, update this info at the same time you inform the post office.
With these tips in mind, I hope that you and your pet can enjoy a safe and happy fall and winter season.
Top photo: Poodle in front of a rain-soaked window by Shutterstock.
About the Author: Aimee Gilbreath is the executive director of the Found Animals Foundation.
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