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Keeping Pets and Livestock Safe for Winter

By Jessica Jackson LVT

Winter is upon us. With the changing of the seasons comes change in our pets and livestock’s needs. Just like with us dogs can get dry, flaky skin in the winter. You can start using a humidifier and encourage pets to drink plenty of water these tips will help you as well as your pets’ skin. Bathe your pets less frequently to prevent the skin form drying out and if you must bath them make sure that they are dried completely after baths. Frequent brushing will also stimulate blood circulation and improve the overall condition of the skin. As the weather continues to get colder here are some things to keep in mind to help animals stay happy and healthy.
Dogs and Cats:
• Even though it is cold outside, small animals still need their exercise. If it is a concern that they will get too cold on walks and outside time these things can help: Putting jackets and booties on and limiting time to 20 minutes per session in the very cold.
• If your pet is kept outside make sure they have access to a warm shelter, or some sort of protection from the cold wind, snow, or rain.
• Make sure that pets have access to fresh unfrozen water at all times. Even in the cold they still need to stay hydrated. Be mindful of freezing temperatures and if the water source needs to be thawed.
• If using snow or ice melt, be sure to use a pet friendly brand. If they ingest non pet safe brand of ice melt it can result in a trip to the veterinarian for toxicity. Salt and other chemicals can also irritate a pet’s paws. Wipe their paws with a damp towel before the pet can lick them and irritate their mouth.
• Also be vigilant that other winter toxins like antifreeze are properly stored and kept where animals cannot access them. If there is an antifreeze spill clean it up immediately, even a teaspoon can be deadly.
• If you have outside or barn cats, be aware that they may look for warm engines to crawl into and this can put them in harm’s way when you go to start your vehicle. It is a good idea to bang on the hood or make some noise so they will wake up and crawl out before you start the engine.
Livestock and Barnyard Friends:
• Always break ice in the water trough or water source or use trough heaters. Even more important livestock and horse need water to stay hydrates and digest their food which is part of the process that helps them to stay warm in the cold temperatures.
• Feed more hay than normal. Livestock and horses will use more calories to stay warm, so they need to increase their feed intake to maintain their body weight.
• If your animal has thin or poor hair coat, make sure they have access to a good shelter or blanket them overnight and during the coldest temperatures.
• Also recognize the importance of early veterinary care. Schedule any veterinary exams early in the season to address any concerns before the harsh conditions arrive. Make sure to pay special attention to pregnant animals and animals of very young or very old age. Age makes all animals less able to adapt to harsh conditions.
As winter settles in our pets and livestock’s needs change. It is important to be mindful of the adjustments that we need to make to keep them happy and healthy throughout this season. A good rule of thumb is that if it is too cold for you, it’s probably too cold for your pet. So, keep your animals inside if possible.

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