Protect pets during cold weather

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, November 25, 2015

We would like to remind our readers that as we experience colder weather to make sure your furry (and maybe feathered) family members are taken care of.

Some dogs will be fine outdoors, provided there is a weather-proofed shelter for them, but others must be brought in on cold nights. Obviously dogs with thick, layered coats may be left out if it’s not too cold, but shorthaired dogs, or dogs with thin coats need to be allowed inside or at least inside a heated garage area. Doghouses may be bought new or built, but the best doghouses are cozy for your dog. If a doghouse is too big, your dog’s body heat will escape, thus defeating the purpose of the doghouse.

Cats, too, will need a warm spot, although some cats may not prefer to be indoors and some cats, namely stray cats or feral cats, may not have anywhere inside to go. Cats can generally tolerate cooler temperatures better than some dog breeds because cats in general have thick coats and those coats get even thicker in the winter. Nevertheless, the Humane Society recommends providing outdoor cats with a safe, dry, weatherproof shelter that includes food and water.

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The Humane Society’s website,, has tips for how to build a suitable outdoor shelter for stray or feral cats in the neighborhood. For chickens or other outdoor pet birds, cold weather is less of an issue. A chicken’s feathers are incredibly useful in retaining body heat (this is the reason down is found so frequently in bedding) so even on the coldest, iciest days, chickens may be seen outdoors, scratching the frozen ground for bits of food. That said, it’s good to stock a chicken coop with fresh straw so your birds can nest, so long as one cleans the straw out once it gets filthy. Some breeds are so adaptable to cold weather, they will continue to lay throughout the winter.

Luckily for us—and our pets—winters here are not severe, so there should not be hard to care for our animals. Just the same, we can’t forget about them this winter either.