Oh the Weather Outside is Frightful…

Ok, it’s “that” time of year again…. Surprise! It’s COLD outside! And it’s not going to warm up for at least a few months….. That having been said…..

I get about 100 e-mails a day for Bandit’s Place. As the weather becomes colder and colder, more and more e-mails come in for pets (usually dogs) tied out in the cold. “Please help this poor dog – tied out all day and in the cold”…. Did no one see this coming? Ok – getting sarcastic here…..sorry!

Anyway…. The point is this – and I say this every year – pets do NOT belong outside during the winter. They simply can not tolerate the cold. Now there are a few breeds that CAN tolerate it – as in huskies, malamutes or any of the “northern” breeds, but for the most part, dogs can not. They simply have evolved too far to have the physical makeup necessary to survive the cold.

So the State of Connecticut put into effect laws to protect these animals. Per the State, these animals are to be given, among other things, proper shelter from the elements. Cold is an element.

When an animal is exposed to the cold for a prolonged period of time, it uses its caloric storage (aka body fat) to keep it warm. If a dog is already thin, it won’t take long for hypothermia to set in. This is also true if the animal is old, very young or infirmed. Ad in any wind and this cuts the time it takes to become hypothermic way down.

Ears are also a very delicate area on a dog. Frostbite can happen very quickly as there is a good blood supply there and little fur. The ends of the ears will die, turn black and fall off. A bit graphic, I know, but it needs to be said.

Feet are also susceptible as are tails. The pads on a dog’s feet are only so good at keeping warm and frost bite can occur there as well as on the tail (with the same results as the ears).
And the temperature doesn’t even have to be artic for this to happen. (If your dog’s water freezes, it’s too cold for the dog to be out there) Again, any prolonged exposure to the cold or wind can bring about these things.

So what do you do? Well the obvious thing would be to keep the pets inside! Other things are to move the dog’s kennel into the garage or basement.

If, however, the dogs MUST stay outside in a kennel or pen, make sure that the dog’s bed or dog house is raised up, off the ground, about 6 inches. This will allow for a warm air pocket to form between the dog and the ground or floor. Keep the opening facing south, where the most sun exposure is. Take bales of straw and put them around the dog house, forming almost an igloo. Make sure the bales extend out beyond the front of the dog house so that the dog is more protected from the wind. Make sure the dog has straw inside the dog house to rest on – again, this forms a bit of warm air and helps.

Now if you see a dog being kept outside in what appears to be conditions that are too much for that animal, please call your animal control officer. Every town in the state has one and they can be reached through your local police department.

If you do not want to call the local animal control officer, the State Department of Agriculture can also be contacted. They over-see all animal control officers in the state and can also investigate any complaints.

This applies to horses and other animals as well – If you’re concerned, call someone! Animal control officers are there to ensure that animals are well taken care of. If they don’t know there’s an issue, they can’t help!!

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