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In cold weather, dogs and cats need warm, dry place to stay

Oct. 27, 2012 at 10 p.m.

Just last week, the temperature dropped rather dramatically. There may be a few warm days remaining, but they will be few and far between, especially for dogs and cats that must be out of doors all the time.

The animals that suffer the most during cold, windy and often wet days and nights are the older animals as well as the very young. Think about it, each year, we feel a little different and not as well as we once did. But at least we can stay inside where we are warm and dry.

Some of the dogs that have a bad situation are the ones that are doomed to live at the end of a chain, usually a short chain which restricts movement. Many of the dogs are chained in the middle of a yard, no dog house at all, and if there is one, it is probably sitting flat on the ground, which means water will be accumulated in the little house. Combine that with freezing temperatures and howling wind resulting in a terrible situation for the dog. The house should be placed on bricks or something to keep it off the ground to be sure no water will get in. The house should face west or south as that will help a little.

It is impossible for a dog to say warm in its house on a bare floor. At the very least, several towels, blankets or bath mats can be placed on the floor so the dog, or perhaps a cat, can sink into them and generate enough body heat to stay warm.

If a dog or cat is not allowed inside the family house, staying warm and comfortable with its family, please provide a dog house that does not leak in rainy weather, and is constructed in a way which also protects from the cold, biting wind. Many pet guardians purchase the igloo type hard plastic dog houses, but the opening is so large, it is like having a house with only three sides for the dogs. There are clear plastic covers for the doors which the guardian may want to consider buying to correct the problem.

If a dog house is so small and the opening so large there is no way the animal could stay dry and warm, so the dog will just stand in the rain. A few years ago, the Marshall Animal Shelter received a call to complain about the situation. A Shelter employee went to the home, no one was home, and a note was left at the door explaining the problem. The very next say, the caller reported a brand new dog house which met the needs of the dog, and the dog was in it, staying comfortable and dry. Sometimes there is a happy ending, if we just make one phone call to the appropriate place.

Another important thing to remember, during very cold weather, dogs or cats that must stay outside the home will require extra food and fresh water. When the temperature drops, animals require additional food to help them stay warm. If the dog has a habit of turning the water bowl over, just dig a hole the size of the water bowl and place the bowl in the hole. A dog or cat will not be able to turn it over.

Everyone has heard that on cold days and nights, cats will often curl up on a warm vehicle engine, trying to stay warm. Therefore, always bang on the car or truck hood to alert a cat that may be there to move on. We don't want to be responsible for mangling an innocent animal.

If a dog or cat is not allowed inside the home during vicious weather, please consider making a warm place in the garage, carport, or covered porch where a dog house or box can be provided for the animal's warmth.

Occasionally, the Marshal Animal Shelter, (903) 935-4530 or the Pet Place will have a dog house which some kind resident is no longer using and has donated it to the facility. Anything is possible, always ask.



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