A Brookhaven veterinarian offers tips on keeping pets safe in the cold.
Published on Friday, January 12, 2024 at 10:00 am.
BROOK HAVEN — Cold weather is coming and now is the time to prepare. Brookhaven Animal Hospital veterinarian Gordon Cleburne reminds people that they can make sure their animals are taken care of next week with simple steps.
The National Weather Service in Jackson predicts a cold start next week. Temperatures could drop below freezing with wind chills in the low and single digits. Frostbite and hypothermia are hazards to humans with prolonged exposure.
A general rule of thumb is that if it’s cool for the owner, it’s somewhat cooler for the animal, Cleburne said. Although animals have fur to keep them warm, low temperatures are still a threat.
“We want to make sure we have shelter for them out of the air. Ideally, it’s best if they can be brought in,” Cleburne said. “A lot of people forget that animals need access to water. With freezing temperatures, the outside water bowl can be solid. It’s always important to make sure they don’t freeze.”
People can prepare their cars for winter by applying antifreeze. Cleburne said it could lead to a heartbreaking situation. Animals may be accidentally exposed to antifreeze that can cause kidney and liver damage. It can also be fatal.
Antifreeze can taste good to dogs and cats, he said, and if the water supply freezes, they may find the antifreeze easier. Owners beware.
Wind is another concern for animals. If an owner does not bring their animal inside, they should provide shelter out of the wind and rain, such as a dog house or kennel. Cleburne warns people to be extra careful with artificial heat sources in these shelters.
“If you’re not careful, you can accidentally burn them or start a fire. If they’re out in the cold, use a little heat to warm them,” Cleburne said. All sources of heat Be careful. Be cautious and minimal.”
As for animals that don’t like being indoors, Cleburne said you just have to trust that they’ll use shelters. Pet owners should also look for signs of overcooling.
“They’re smart enough to find a comfortable place. Make sure you provide access to a place and a nice warm place for them to curl up in,” Cleburne said. Notice if they are shivering or sluggish and they seem cold. It’s usually pretty straightforward.”
Air space, unfrozen water and feed are the basics for caring for livestock. Cows and horses need access to unfrozen water, Cleburne said. A salt block can help them make sure they drink enough water. He said sometimes horses are really bad about eating a bunch of hay but not drinking enough water and have stomachaches.
Cleburne said most cattle owners know how to feed their cows well and stack hay bales or use trees for windbreaks. As long as the cattle are well fed and have a way out of the rain or wind they will be fine for a few days.