Winter is here: Time to protect your animals

January 22, 2016

With massive amounts of snow expected along the East Coast and cold winter temperatures creeping across the United States, several weather advisories and safety warnings have been issued over the course of the past few days. These advisories are not just reserved for the human population, however. In a recent article, one veterinarian explains the importance of taking the necessary precautions to keep your pets and livestock safe during the winter months.

Food, for example, is a major player in the health of your animal(s) during the cooler months. Veterinarians recommend that outdoor pets and livestock are provided with more food during the winter, and good quality at that. This is to help restore body heat and fat lost from the animal’s body working hard to keep itself warm.

The article also discusses the importance of shelter and water, keeping both readily available and fresh. A clean and dry space will allow the animal to have a safe haven from the cold and will also allow it to conserve heat. For livestock, make sure they have a run-in shelter that will help block wind and moisture. Fresh water is also a high priority, and contrary to what some may say, snow is not a substitution for this. If an animal is relying on snow, they are wasting valuable energy melting it, so it is important to keep their water source fresh and free of ice. Investing in water heaters is a great way to make sure that your pet or livestock is staying hydrated in the cooler months.

When compared to pets, livestock are at a larger risk during the winter since they are usually in the outdoors facing the elements constantly, including during transportation. Keeping your herd safe and warm during transportation is a priority for the animal and also for the safety of the end product. When traveling via truck and trailer in cold temperatures, make sure openings are covered enough to cut wind and chill, but that there is still some ventilation. It is also recommended to provide a ground layer for heat, such as straw or shavings, to keep swine or young calves warm during travel.

Some other important safety measures to keep in mind during the winter include keeping your pets away from antifreeze, keeping your animals well-groomed for proper insulation and health, as well as checking your car to make sure no animals have taken refuge in the engine. Animals seeking warmth oftentimes are able to find their way into a vehicle’s engine, resulting in death or serious injury.

It is important to watch and care for all the animals in your possession at all times, making sure their well-being and health are a top priority especially in the winter. As always, veterinarians remind animal caregivers that if you notice your animal is acting abnormal, contact your local veterinarian right away. By doing this and following the tactics mentioned above, you can promote the soundness and quality of life your pet or livestock needs during the next few winter months.

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