René Littlehawk: Winterizing our pets
Burrrrr! Fall is here and winter is fast approaching. The cold and the snow will soon be blowing and all of our feathered and furry friends are going to need some extra TLC.
Let’s start with our canine buddy. All dogs are different in how they handle the cold months of winter. For example, my 110 pound malamute will be perfectly happy playing in the cold and the snow and not even want to sleep in the house because she gets to warm. On the other hand my 3 pound chihuahua will only go out long enough to do her business and only if she has her coat on.
Larger dogs that can stay out need to have an appropriate sized, insulated dog house. I use straw for bedding because it has great insulation and they all stay toasty warm. Car mud flaps make excellent door flaps to help keep the cold out. All animals need access to fresh, unfrozen water year around. One thing we do for the lion dogs is put warm water on their food through the cold months. They seem to hold their weight better. You can find houses, straw and heated water containers at the local feed stores.
Cats, even those tough old barn cats, need somewhere to get out of the weather where it’s warm and dry. They aren’t as tough as they think they are! Make sure they have a place too.
Horses are a little more involved. Older and very young horses will need a little more grocery. Calories burn so much quicker in the lower temperatures. Check their condition regularly. The wooly coat can cover up a weight loss as well as those unsightly fat deposits. I’m not one to use blankets for any but a horse with health issues or when trying to protect an injury. Generally, I think they prevent the horse from getting their much needed winter coat or cause them to sweat and actually get chilled easier.
Talk to you veterinarian if you notice any major weight changes. It could indicate a deeper problem or you may simply need to alter the diet.
Again be sure you horse has access to fresh, unfrozen water. Relying on snow consumption is not a very good idea. A horse has to eat snow all day to get the amount of water it needs to stay healthy. Without the proper amount of water a horse has a lot higher risk of colic.
And of course we can’t forget our feathered friends. Right now most of our chickens are ending their molt period and still look a little rough. I use a small heater in the chicken house. This gives them the heat they need (not hot just keep it about 40 to 45degrees) and it keeps their water thawed at the same time. I make sure that they have plenty of clean shavings and food.
Just take care of all our friends with a little common sense and ask questions when in doubt. Ask your feed stores, your favorite veterinarian or whoever you trust.