By Ashley Helmrich, Homestead Garden's Animal Nutrition Expert.
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With temperatures dropping, it is important to keep our pet's safety on our mind. All pets need protection from extreme temperatures including warm, dry, draft-free shelter; plenty of food; and lots of water.
Even though our pets have fur coats for protection, it's not a perfect insulator when it's very cold outside or even wet. In extreme temperatures, the most furry of mammals have a difficult time retaining and creating heat. For dog owners, they can purchase a coat and some booties. Coats and sweaters will help dogs stay warm to an extent, but it doesn't mean they can stay outside for prolonged periods of time. Dog booties will help to protect your dogs pads from snow freezing on their paws or burning from salt that is not pet safe.
If you have a puppy or senior dog, they should never be left outside in extremely cold weather. They do not have adequate fat storage, metabolism, or a full fur coat needed to stay warm.
To help encourage dogs to go outside in the snow and cold, make sure to shovel an area right outside for them, stay close to them, and if needed make an indoor potty area (pee pads).
Outdoor pets should have shelter with dry, clean bedding. There are even heating pads specifically made for animals (dogs, cats, and chickens) that can be used too.
When temperatures drop, all mammals requires more calories in order to keep themselves warm. One way to increase our calories is too eat more food. Below are recommendations from Ashley:
- Dogs and cats: Owners could add some canned wet food into meals or make a third meal. A fat supplement for dogs and cats could be Salmon oil.
- Horses: Depending on the horse, there are a few things to try, but I'm always a proponent of more forage in the winter. One product I really like to add to the diet in the winter is Standlee Alfalfa chopped hay. Another product would be Amplify, a fat supplement.
- Chickens: A flock block is a great way to add enrichment for chickens while getting them more nutrients and allowing them to express natural behaviors.
Water is one of the five essential nutrients (Water, Carbohydrates, Fat, Protein, & Vitamins and Minerals). It is of the utmost importance to have water available to all animals. If animals do have access to water, they will not eat or won't eat as much, and in order for them to keep warm, they have to eat more. If temperatures drop below freezing, outside animals need a heated water source. There are many commercially available heated water buckets/bowls/waterers.
More Quick Tips:
- Anytime a dog is wearing a coat or sweater, they should be supervised. If a dog is an outdoor dog, they should be brought in when temperatures are extreme. If it's too cold for you, it's too cold for your pet.
- Get reflective products to help stay safe while walking your dog this winter.
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