Your Cats & Dogs feel the Cold too.

We’re now officially entering colder weather, and while you’re cozy inside, remember that all of your outdoor companion animals, feral kitties and dogs, and even your chickens and other poultry need help to stay warm too.  Sadly, over the last several winters we here at Four Legs and Fur have received too many reports of animals literally freezing to death.

Most regular dog houses and outdoor cat condos are not insulated, so they provide little in the way of shelter from biting winds, freezing rain or snow.  It’s relatively inexpensive to fix this.  Hermitage Lumber and farm stores sell bales of straw, which have an amazing insulating value if stacked against the walls and even over the ceiling of the house.  And a warm four-inch layer of straw inside keeps your pet from being exposed to as much of the cold coming from the ground.

If that doesn’t suit you, and especially if you’re dealing with feral cats you want to try to help, here’s a great link for instructions on building a variety of feral cat cold and all-weather shelters:  http://www.catster.com/lifestyle/feral-cat-health-shelter-cats-how-to-build-diy

Also keep in mind that it benefits outside animals to have a bit more flesh on them during the winter months than you would want during the summer.  You can accomplish this by feeding them a bit extra and adding more fat to their rations.  Doing so helps them generate more heat.

Lastly, please remember that your outside companions continue to need water (not ice) to keep them hydrated.  If they have to resort to eating snow, it often results in their getting hypothermia.  A stock tank heater, or a metal water bowl put up on a brick, with a heat lamp below it can provide water in the coldest of temps.
And if you’re wondering whether or not your animal HAS hypothermia, here’s how that is defined:  There are three phases of hypothermia: mild, moderate, and severe. Mild hypothermia is classified as a body temp of 101.3°F-97.7°F, moderate is 97.7°F-93.2°F, and severe is a body temperature under 93.2°F.
Because animals have a higher normal temperature, they can suffer the results of hypothermia that much earlier.  If you suspect your companion has become too cold, supplemental heat can be provided through the use of warm IV fluids, a fluid line warmer, insulation on the feet, circulating warm water blankets, and/or warm air circulation systems.  If it seems severe, an immediate trip to the vet may be the only solution.  Better to prevent the problem if you can.

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