Dudley and Boogie lead a pretty easy life with comfy beds on the porch and a standing invitation to come indoors.
But even those two pups need a little more TLC when the temperatures drop.
Joan and Robert Ragas, owners of Dudley and Boogie, said while their dogs and cats are considered inside-outside animals, they do try to bring them all in at night, especially on unusually chilly nights.
“The important thing is that when they are outside, they have a place to lie down that is off of the ground and the cold concrete,” Joan Ragas said.
That helps the dogs stay warm and dry, which is important this time of year.
Ginger Cobb, of Colbert Animal Clinic in Tuscumbia, said the wetness is harder on dogs and cats than the cold.
“Owners need to be sure their pets have a sheltered place to go when it is wet or cold,” she said. “A dog house or box with some type of blankets, hay or straw is preferable.”
The same goes for large animals such as horses. Cobb said while they typically tolerate inclement and cold weather better than smaller animals, they still need shelter from cold weather.
“As long as they stay dry, they can typically tolerate the colder weather,” she said.
Robert Ragas said while they try each night to bring the cats in, cats are a little more self-sufficient.
“They can get in a hole or under something to stay warm and out of the weather,” he said. “The cats will find a place to curl up.”
Tommy Morson, director of Colbert County Animal Control, said dog houses should be shielded from the wind.
“Make sure the structure is not facing north and that it is in an area where wind is restricted,” he said. “We do recommend that people bring pets in during extremely cold weather. Put them in the garage or on a back porch, but bring them in if you can.”
Winter weather can trigger the same types of illnesses in dogs, cats and other animals that humans experience during cold-weather months including hypothermia and respiratory distress, Cobb said.
Also, when the temperature drops, owners need to be more aware of their pet’s food and water supply. Cobb said animals need more food during cold months and even suggested switching to a food that has a higher fat content so pets keep their body weight up and can produce more body heat.
“And make sure it is drinkable water,” Cobb said. “If there is ice in the water or the bucket is frozen, you have to dump it.”
She said if a dog or cat experiences trembling, fever or is less responsive, a trip to the veterinarian’s office is recommended.
Jennifer Edwards can be reached at 256-740-5754 or jennifer.edwards@TimesDaily.com.
Safety tips for pets during winter
Keep cats inside. Felines can freeze, become lost or be stolen, injured or killed.
During winter, outdoor cats sometimes sleep under the car hoods and when the motor is started, the cat can be injured or killed by the fan belt. Bang loudly on the car hood before starting the engine to give the cat a chance to escape.
More dogs are lost during the winter than during any other season, so make sure your dog always wears ID tags.
Thoroughly wipe dog’s legs and stomach when he comes in out of the sleet, snow or ice. He can ingest salt, antifreeze or other potentially dangerous chemicals while licking his paws, and his paw pads may also bleed from snow or encrusted ice.
Never shave dog down to the skin in winter. A longer coat will provide more warmth. When bathing pet in the colder months, dry thoroughly before going for a walk.
Never leave a dog or cat alone in a car during cold weather. A car can act as a refrigerator in the winter, holding in the cold and causing the animal to freeze to death.
Puppies do not tolerate cold as well as adult dogs and may be difficult to housebreak during the winter.
Increase dog’s supply of food, particularly protein.
Make sure pet has a warm place to sleep, off the floor and away from all drafts.