Keeping pets happy, warm and safe during the holidaysBY CHUCK TUCK | JOURNAL REPORTER With last week’s cold spell and more to come this winter season, some special attention is in order for pets.
Domestic animals such as cats and dogs get cold just like people do when it snows and the temperature drops below what they are normally accustomed to. More thought and consideration is also needed for those pets during the holiday season as families tend to load-up on food and chocolates and unwanted scraps are tossed to pets to nibble on.
Outdoor pets, especially dogs that are left chained or confined to a small part of the yard, need more help when it comes to staying warm during the cold winter months. A good way to start is to elevate the doghouse keeping it off the cold and frozen ground.
A couple of quick and simple methods of doing this is to either use pressure treated 2”x4” lumber or the 12”x12”x2” concrete stepping blocks.
If raising a large doghouse, be sure to run the lumber or concrete blocks down the center of the doghouse to give it the extra support needed in the middle to prevent the floor from sagging and damaging your pet’s home.
Raising the doghouse is good practice year round and can help in a couple of ways.
One, by getting it off the cold earth, it helps prevent the cold ground from reaching the floor, thus making it less difficult for dogs to warm their home.
Second, it helps to prevent any rain water or melting snow from entering into the opening of the doghouse.
If you’re looking to give a gift of a doghouse to a friend, don’t buy one that’s larger than necessary for the dog. Unlike people, they do not need an over-sized house to feel secure. In fact, it makes it more difficult for pets to stay warm in a large house since they use their own body heat to warm the inside of their shelter.
After you have raised the doghouse, you may want to give it a front door. Not one with hinges, but a simple one using scrap carpet or extra heavy-duty plastic.
Measure the opening of the entrance and add approximately an inch-and-a-half to both sides, then measure from top to bottom adding about three inches to its length.
Now cut the carpet or plastic into one to two inch vertical strips keeping in mind not to cut into the extra inch-and-a-half and three inch buffer zone.
Now you’re ready to place the door to the opening by means of a hammer and nail, or using heavy-duty staples and tack along the buffer zones.
If you’re still doing the routine of walking your dog in the snow, be mindful that salt or chemicals used to melt ice can irritate the pads of your pet. What you’ll want to do is have a bucket of warm water and cloth to wipe their pad of anything they may have picked up on the walk.
Also keep chocolates away from dogs as they can be toxic and fatal depending on the weight and amount of chocolates ingested.