Cold weather has arrived and the time has come to get ready for another winter. The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) asks your readers to think about their pets' needs for the months ahead. In New Jersey, state law (4:22-17) mandates that any animal in a person's care must be provided with proper shelter or protection from the weather. Violators may be subject to a sizable fine or six months in jail, or both.
Dogs or cats should not be left outdoors when the temperature drops dramatically, and very young or old pets should always be kept inside. Dogs who are often kept outside need a draft-free, waterproof shelter. A dog house should not be more than 12 inches longer or three inches higher than the dog, since the dog's body heat cannot warm a space which is too large. Clean wood chips or straw provide a warm bed and stay drier than blankets or carpet. Make frequent checks of food and water to be sure they're not frozen.
Chemicals such as anti-freeze can be deadly to animals. Even a small puddle of anti-freeze can kill or seriously injure a cat or dog. Anti-freeze containing propylene glycol, a safer chemical, is available. Other caustic chemicals used to melt ice and snow cannot only irritate your pet's paws, but can be toxic if they lick their feet. After walks, wipe your pets' paws with a moist cloth.
A parked car's warm engine is an attractive resting place for cats who are outside on cold nights. Be sure to bang on the hood of your car before starting it so any cats inside will leave. If you feed birds, make sure food is available for them every day.
Make it a happy and safe winter for the animals in your life. If you would like free brochures on protecting your pets from winter's woes, feeding wild birds, or proper dog house construction, please send a self-addressed stamped envelope (one envelope for each request) to The Humane Society of the United States, Mid-Atlantic Regional Office, 270 Route 206, Flanders, NJ 07836.
Nina Austenberg, Director
The Humane Society of the United States