COLUMBUS — As the cold winter months quickly approach, the Animals for Life Foundation — a non-profit that promotes the proper care of animals — wants to ensure that the animals in your life are safe and healthy this winter.
“We should plan for the needs of animals of all kinds to ensure they are safe and healthy throughout the harsh winter months,” said David White, executive director of AFL.
“Pets and livestock require extra care and attention to brave the elements even if it is for only moments at a time.”
Be prepared to protect your animals’ health this winter by following these helpful tips:
• Always check your pet’s paws upon coming in from the outdoors for frostbite. Ice melting salt can adhere to footpads causing much discomfort. Be on the lookout for pet-safe salt sold in many stores.
• Many pets are less active in the cold, burning fewer calories and gaining weight. Consult with your vet about properly adjusting your pet’s food rations during the winter.
• Antifreeze, even in small quantities can be fatal to dogs and cats. Clean up all spills around your house to avoid any incidents.
• Make sure your animals’ water supply is not frozen. If pets become thirsty they may go to other sources for water, which could be harmful to their health.
• Watch out for pets trying to cozy up to a warm fire or candles. Make sure they keep their distance so not to catch a furry tail on fire.
• When letting pets outside for bathroom breaks and exercise, pay close attention to their actions. Sudden changes in behavior like shivering or sluggishness may mean they are too cold.
• Make sure your livestock’s water supply is not frozen. Now is the time to winterize your water systems to ensure lines will not freeze.
Be aware of ice on barn floors and other surfaces. Slips and falls may cause traumatic injury to animals and their human caretakers.
• Keep a close watch for livestock respiratory problems as temperatures fluctuate. Coughing, irregular breathing and excessive mucus are all signs of potential respiratory infections.
• Remember that livestock need additional calories in colder weather since the animal’s body is expending much energy working to regulate body temperature. Invest in protein tubs, increase grain rations and also keep hay available to your livestock on pasture; remember that most forage is unavailable or covered with snow when winterlike conditions are present.
“For each 10 degree drop in wind chill factor below 30 degrees, a cow’s energy requirements increase by 13 percent, and that is if she has a winter coat, is dry and is in moderate body condition,” said Ron Lemenager, professor of animal science at Purdue University.
“This energy requirement jumps to 30 percent if she is wet, has no winter coat and is thin.”
That is just one example of the tremendous impact the winter weather and temperatures can have on livestock, whether it resides in a barn or on pasture.
The animals work harder to stay comfortable and maintain body condition; make sure there is a dry place available for them to go to get out of the wind, rain or snow.