Most of the leaves are down and some of the coldest days of the year are just weeks away. As the thermometer drops, most people just crank up the thermostat to compensate.
Pets and other animals don’t have the option of controlling their own environment. They can be exposed to harsh winter conditions. Here are some tips to make certain animals remain healthy and warm when cold winter storms sweep across Utah.
Cut back on bathing
Obviously, this advice applies to pets and not their owners. The skins of dogs and cats can get itchy, dry and flaky in winter — especially if they move back and forth between outside cold and the dry, heated air of your home.
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals recommends infrequent bathing for dogs in the winter to prevent further drying of skin and hair. If your pooch absolutely needs a bath, choose a dog shampoo and rinse specially formulated for moisturizing properties.
Extra food and fresh water
Your pets need more food in cold weather because they need extra fuel for energy to stay warm, reports petmd.com. Consider a heated water dish and make sure to remove moist food that freezes. If you have a dog or cat that stays outdoors, you might consider feeding and watering them in the garage or house in cold weather.
Shelter from the storm
Animals need extra protection from winter elements. Pet MD notes in most cases, a pet’s fur coat isn’t enough protection if they spend long periods of each day outside. An adequate shelter should block wind and snow and be insulated. Consider adding a heat source like an electric mat or even a small heat lamp.
Dogs and cats are commonly exposed to a couple sources of poison in winter. Antifreeze is deadly to both, but has a sweet taste that attracts them, according to The Humane Society. If antifreeze spills on your driveway or walks, make certain to wipe it up immediately. Animals can also be poisoned by rock salt and other ice-melting chemicals. Call the vet if your pet ingests de-icers.
Special care for chickens
In recent years, many urban homeowners in Utah have started keeping chickens. Keeping chickens healthy and comfortable in winter is fairly simple. They need shelter from wind and snow and most chicken coops are adequate. They also need a constant fresh water source because water is essential to their digestion.
In winter, Chickens need additional light for egg production. An incandescent light in the coop serves a dual purpose of providing needed light as well as some heat.
The feet, combs and wattles of some chicken varieties are susceptible to frostbite. When conditions are extra cold, petroleum jelly applied to those areas can help prevent frostbite, according to information from Tractor Supply.
Chickens need dry air and non-drafty ventilation. So don’t make the coop too airtight or damp or the chickens are more likely to get sick or to freeze.
For people who love winter recreation, Utah can be a wonderland. For pets and other domestic animals who rely on people to survive, Utah’s winters can be uncomfortable or even deadly. With a few simple precautions, you can help make their conditions much more hospitable.