At least 79 dogs were found frozen to death in 2017-19: Expert Leigh Sendra lists ways you can protect your pooch from extreme cold
Contrary to what some may think, animals do not tolerate extremely cold weather and may suffer from hypothermia and frostbite, said Leigh Sendra, founder of CHEW Animal Clinic and Doodle Rock Rescue. Here's what to do to help.
WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT
Winter brings with it Christmas and Thanksgiving but it also ushers in torturous nights for thousands of animals left outside to fend for themselves. During the 2017–18 season, 50 animals died due to the cold and those were just the reported ones. In the 2018-19 season, since November, 29 have already died. There is, however, no way of finding the real number, because most of these cases that occur are not reported.
Contrary to what some may think, animals do not tolerate extreme cold weather and may suffer from hypothermia and frostbite, said Leigh Sendra, founder of CHEW Animal Clinic and Doodle Rock Rescue. The Texas-based nonprofit is dedicated to rescuing, rehabilitating, and rehoming doodles in need. "Even with the new laws in place, and with continuing education and community involvement, animals are found frozen to death across the United States. This is a sad reality in the world in which we are living", she told MEA World Wide (MEAWW).
But, if that's your only option, there are things you can do to make the fur babies comfortable this winter. It starts with providing adequate shelter. "It's imperative," says Sendra, "Buying shelter that is watertight, insulated and raised off the ground at least four inches will help keep warmer temperatures inside." Blankets are prone to freezing when the dog tracks in the snow - straw is your best choice for bedding she says because it is not just warm, it is also absorbent.
The entrance to your dog's shelter is also important. Buy one with a self-closing door or add a vinyl flap, or position the door in such a way that it is away from the winds so it keeps the cold outside and the inside nice and warm. "If you buy a sweater for your dog, make sure it is checked regularly. If you find the sweater wet from snow or rain, it is likely to freeze during the night, causing your dog’s body temperature to drop to life-threatening numbers", she warned.
Winter season should be a time when you pay special attention to your dog's weight. It is important to keep your dog at a healthy weight and provide extra calories to help generate more body heat and energy to keep them warm, she said.
Keep the water bowl outside, but make sure it is not frozen by checking regularly. "Placing water inside the shelter, there is a risk of it spilling, freezing and dropping inside temperatures", she said.
And finally, always monitor them when they are outside. "Having hazardous agents in the same living area with your dogs brings additional concerns. Salt and other chemicals used to melt snow and ice can irritate the pads of your pet's feet. Antifreeze is a deadly poison but has a sweet taste that may attract animals. Make sure to keep anything dangerous away from your animals", she said.
Speak up for the voiceless, she urges. "Many times, owners are uneducated about the consequences of leaving their animal outside or financially unable to provide adequate shelter for their animal. If you are comfortable talking to the owner, advise them about how to protect their dogs", she says. Educate yourself about the local laws regarding the issue. Many animal rescues also aid with shelter, food and necessary items that can be donated to those who cannot afford to buy it themselves.
"If you find yourself talking to an owner who isn’t willing to accept these donations, or make any changes to their current situation, it is very important for you to call the authorities. Your local animal control, sheriff, rescue organization or Humane Society will be able to step in and help", she said.