Winter in Greater Prescott is wonderful — it makes us who we are. We’re one of those places in Arizona that gets to have a real one, with snow and snowplows and snow angels and snow people and seeing our pets’ adorable paw prints in the snow.
But it’s easy to forget, especially if you’re a recent transplant from the desert, that our furry friends need some protection from the cold despite all that furriness. Nippy temperatures and seasonal methods of coping with it do bring some hazards to the pet life, as sweet as it can be in dog- and cat- and horse-crazy territory like we’re in.
Because we all have brain freezes sometimes, the American Humane Society provides these reminders from our beloved critters about how to keep them high and dry for the rest of the cold season.
Your animals are your loyal, loving companions and deserve to be safe from our freezing temperatures which often extend into May, and this includes cats who may be allowed to roam the neighborhood at other times of the year, though our proximity to coyotes make this a pretty dicey idea to begin with.
Keep your cats indoors and leave your dogs there, too, when you’re not taking them out for their daily exercise.
2. Dress me.
Aside from those truly bred for winter like huskies and St. Bernards, dogs do get cold when they’re out in freezing and sub-freezing temperatures.
Small and short-coated canines, especially, appreciate sweaters in the winter. So, there’s no reason to be embarrassed about picking up that adorable sweater you found for little Max or Maxine at the store.
3. Protect me from seasonal toxins.
Antifreeze and road salt are the two most commonly used winter chemicals that can cause severe medical issues for your pets. Keep the automotive chemical out of reach and clean up any spills ASAP, before the sweet smell or taste can attract animals or small children with a potentially fatal dose.
De-icing salt contains sodium chloride, which irritates animals’ paws and can be fatal when ingested, especially in large amounts; wipe your dog’s feet down frequently.
4. Horse sense.
If you have horses on your property, make sure they always have access to a barn or three-sided shelter and unfrozen water. Body-clipped horses should wear blankets throughout the winter, and they will be appreciated by the others, especially during our coldest snaps.
Give horses and other equines as much hay, grass and legumes as they want; the extra fuel helps their bodies to regulate their temperature.
5. Watch out for the rest of us.
Don’t be shy about helping other animals you see struggling in the winter landscape. You can fashion shelters for outdoor cats out of plastic tubs, pallets, shipping containers, tractor tires and just about anything else.
In your yard, keep strings of outdoor lights and play equipment that deer could get tangled up in to a minimum.
If you’re concerned about someone else’s animals, try to find a way to tactfully ask if there’s any way you can help them out.