A Guide To Safeguarding Your Pet For Winter
While I don't always agree with PETA's beliefs or tactics (hit this link to watch us mess with them), they do have good intentions. Well, at least they think they do. Of course, thinking isn't one of their strong suits, as you'll see below. Their almost militant approach to everything related to animals is comical at best, and annoying at least.
With all of that in mind, they do have animals' best interests in mind. With the weather consistently below freezing, many people forget their animals weren't made to stand outside all day and night. Have a short haired dog? It's now an indoor pet for the next couple of months. Have a cat that roams around? If so, why do you even have a cat? Below is a press release from PETA that has some dos and don'ts of animal safeguarding during the winter months...with my own little observations thrown in for good measure:
PETA: Every year, PETA receives thousands of complaints about people who leave dogs outside in the cold. Although they are equipped with fur coats, dogs and other animals can still suffer from frostbite and exposure, and they can become dehydrated when water sources freeze. Cold weather spells extra hardship for "backyard dogs," who often go without adequate food, water, shelter, or veterinary care, and it can also pose challenges for wildlife.
ME: So far, so good. Yay Peta!
PETA:• Keep animals indoors. This is absolutely critical when it comes to puppies and kittens, elderly animals, small animals, and dogs with short hair, including pointers, beagles, pit bulls, Rottweilers, and Doberman pinschers. Short-haired animals will also benefit from a warm sweater or a coat on walks.
ME: You had me until the last sentence. But, I also understand that some people dress their animals year round. Not my thing, but go on...
PETA: • Don't allow your cat or dog to roam outdoors. During winter, cats sometimes climb under the hoods of cars to be near warm engines and are badly injured or killed when the car is started.
ME: I still don't understand why people would let their pets "roam around". Why do you even have a pet? Good point, PETA.
PETA: • Wipe off your dogs' or cats' legs, feet, and stomachs after they come in from the snow. Salt and other chemicals can make your animals sick if they ingest them. You should also increase animals' food rations during the winter because they burn more calories in an effort to stay warm.
ME: Not sure if wiping your animal down after coming in from your backyard is necessary because of chemicals, but I do it just to keep my house from being covered in snow and wet-dog smell. I would also point out that if your animal doesn't want extra food, you shouldn't force it to eat. Fido will grub when he's ready, just make sure he has plenty of food.
PETA: • Keep an eye out for stray animals. Take unidentified animals indoors until you can find their guardians or take them to an animal shelter. If strays are skittish or otherwise unapproachable, provide food and water and call your local humane society for assistance in trapping them and getting them indoors.
ME: Your starting to lose me, PETA. If you find a stray, absolutely call the Humane Society (in Casper (307) 265-5439) but I would suggest you never, ever allow a stray animal in your house. No matter how friendly he may seem, he could be riddled with diseases, love to eat children, etc.
PETA: • If you see animals left outside without shelter from the elements, please notify authorities.
ME: Don't know how I feel about this one. I agree that animals should not be left outside for extended periods of time without shelter, but maybe you should try talking to the animal's owner first. Some people just aren't aware that their Rotweiler wasn't made for cold weather, and a simple "hey, you're killing your dog" may go a long ways. Especially if it's your neighbor. Give them the benefit of the doubt and a chance before you call The Man. It almost seems like we've become a society of tattle-tales, because it's easier than having a face-to-face conversation.
PETA: • During extreme winter weather, birds and other animals may have trouble finding food and water. Offer rations to wildlife who are caught in storms or white-outs by spreading birdseed on the ground. Provide access to liquid water by filling a heavy water bowl and breaking the surface ice twice a day. Remember to remove the food once the weather improves to encourage the animals to move on to warmer areas.
ME: And this is where the "thinking" part goes awry. Wildlife is called that because, well, they're wild. You may think of it as helping the birds, but that mountain lion will notice that its food is all meeting at one place to eat their food, and you've just become a buffet for carnivores. At some point, we need to allow nature to take its course. House pets that have been bred with no natural defenses is one thing. Animals that we've stolen land from, and look at us as either food or a threat? Well, you should probably just let them be.