Winter Weather Animal Care Tips

The following is a news release from the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry

With temperatures dipping near or below freezing of this week and possibly the next livestock and pet owners should take special precautions to ensure the safety and well being of their animals, Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain, D.V.M., said.

"Just like Louisiana residents need hats and coats for protection from the winter weather we are currently experiencing, livestock and pets also require certain accommodations," Strain said.

Department of Agriculture and Forestry Assistant State Veterinarian Martha Littlefield has several cold weather recommendations for pet and livestock owners.

Livestock:

While Louisiana is experiencing freezing temperatures, owners should check their livestock often looking for signs of stress, illness or injury, paying close attention to the young and older animals as they are more susceptible to problems during frigid conditions.
 
Provide plenty of hay, feed or similar supplements and water available. Be sure to check water troughs as they can ice over. "Water troughs can freeze restricting access to water which can lead to dehydration of your animals," Littlefield said.
 
If possible, make adequate shelter available. Even a wind-break will minimize exposure to cold winds.

Companion animals:

If possible, keep companion animals indoors. If this is not feasible, make sure there is a dry shelter available and have warm blankets for your pet.
 
Provide adequate food and water. Monitor water bowls as they can freeze during cold weather.

Consider a sweater for your short-haired dog.

Outdoor cats searching for warmth will sometimes crawl underneath the hood of a vehicle. Cats can be injured or even killed when the car is started. "Cats are notorious for perching on warm car engines on cold nights," Littlefield said. "Before starting up the car in the morning, bang or open the hood of your car so any feline taking refuge on the engine may flee."

For additional information, contact a veterinarian in your area.