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Pet owners cautioned of winter weather

By Caitlin Rickard crickard@lebanondemocrat.com • Dec 15, 2015 at 2:08 PM

With winter temperatures dropping and only expected to decrease, it’s important for pet owners to remember their furry friends left outdoors.

“Next week I think temperatures are supposed to get into the single digits, so we just want to remind everyone to make sure to take care of their pets,” Lebanon police Chief Scott Bowen said. “People think their pets are accustomed to the weather because they’re animals, but they’re not.”

Bowen said police often get calls from people concerned to check up on animals left outdoors and they wanted to make sure everyone remembers their outside pets this time of year.

Though it may not rain or snow a big factor outside is the wind Bowen said, and with the wind chill getting down to zero, it’s crucial to remember pets that may be outside suffering.

“We just ask that people remember because I know sometimes people do forget,” Bowen said. “It’s a good idea to bring them in to a heated space or the garage or the house if you can.”

Mt. Juliet Animal Services is also urging citizens to stay alert with continuing cold weather moving into the area.

“There is a slight misconception where people think pets are comfortable in cold weather because they have fur for protection against the cold,” said Animal Services Director Dawn Ambrose. “However, regardless of how thick an animal’s fur is, below freezing temperatures can be very dangerous for any pet.”

If possible, it is always best to keep pets indoors, but those that need to be outside should be provided with adequate shelter that helps protect them from being exposed to cold temperatures. Animals that are left outside for lengthy periods of time can become susceptible to hypothermia.

According to Mt. Juliet Animal Services, hypothermia will most likely happen when an animal is wet and cold. Consult a veterinarian immediately if a pet is found violently shivering followed by listlessness, apathy, a temperature below 97 degrees, collapse and coma.

Often times Mt. Juliet’s Animal Control officers find pets without proper shelter or any shelter at all. Mt. Juliet Animal Services can be contacted at 615-773-5533 if someone feels that a pet is being neglected.

Mt. Juliet Animal Services has listed a few simple steps for pet owners that can help protect animals during cold temperatures.

If possible keep pets inside, but if they can’t be inside, provide a warm and comfortable shelter facing away from wind and provide a flap or door to help keep the animal’s body heat inside.

Bedding is also essential for insulation because it protects the animal from the snow or ice underneath its body and allows them to retain heat within the bedding.

Also, keep pets secure in fencing or on a leash because pets can lose their sense of smell and direction in the snow, ice and cold and can become lost.

Additionally, be sure to wipe off pets legs and stomachs after being outdoors in order to remove ice, salt or chemicals.

For pet owners with cats, it is important to remember cats may sleep under hoods of cars to stay warm, so owners should be weary and check under their car hoods before starting their car.

In order to produce body heat, outdoor pets need extra calories so extra food and water is crucial. There are now devices available to keep water dishes from freezing, but if one is not available remember to fill and replace water frequently.

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