Sedalia and Pettis County have been spared much of the wrath of winter weather so far but as area residents know all too well January, February and March can be brutal when it comes to cold temperatures, snow, ice and wind.
The same conditions that can make life uncomfortable for humans can also be of concern to the animal population.
“If your pet is an outside animal there to begin with you don’t need to bring them inside all the time during the winter months,” Dr. Jennifer Boatright, DVM said. “What is the most important thing a pet owner needs to remember is to provide them with clean dry shelter from the wind, rain and snow.
“The weather we had last week when it was about 35 degrees with all of the cold rain was probably some of the worst conditions for pets to encounter,” Boatright added.
Pets tend to burn more calories in the cold, just as humans do.
Boatright recommends watching the predicted temperatures when feeding outdoor animals.
“Inside pets don’t need more food during the winter months because their daily activities won’t change that much,” Boatright said. “For outdoor animals though you need to provide ample calories to equal the demands placed on their systems.”
Boatright also said that it is important to not change what the animals are being fed.
“It is true for pets and livestock, you need to provide them with a quality nutritional source,” Boatright said. “If you start changing what their normal diet is that can cause the animal to have digestive complications.”
Boatright recommend having an ample supply of pet food in the house in case the weather becomes bad and the owner cannot get out of the house to get supplies.
“It doesn’t hurt to keep extra food in the house for your pets as you would do for yourself,” “Boatright said.
To aid in their digestion it is important to keep all animals well hydrated.
“It’s important to make sure that any water that you have outdoors for your animals is fresh and it isn’t frozen over no matter if they are pets are livestock,” Boatright said. “With cattle often they drink from ponds so it is very important that you are aware of their environment.
“You may need to change the location of where they are pastured because if the pond is frozen over and they walk out onto the ice; they can go under and get trapped.” Boatright added. “The same is true for any animal if they do go out on the ice, call for trained personal to come and rescue the animal, don’t attempt to do it on your own because the risk is too great for humans in those situations.”
Boatright recommends always walking dogs on leashes to make it less likely for the animal to stray.
“After an animal has been outside it is a good idea to dry the pads of their feet,” Boatright said. “Be sure to check for ice balls in their coats which can be painful to them and try to wipe away any chemicals that they may have gotten into that have been used to melt away the snow and ice on sidewalks and roads.
“Because that typically is a type of salt, they may drink more water and they may lick the pads of their feet more which can cause sores to develop on them,” she added. “It’s important to check for frostbite in the tips of their ears and feet as well.”
Boatright also provided advice for individuals who may have given their children a new kitten or puppy as a holiday present.
“One of the most important things I can recommend is to teach your child how to be responsible for the animal,” Boatright said. “Have them take part in the daily care of the animal by feeding and making sure that the animal has daily exercise.
“As pet owners there is a great deal of responsibility that comes along with having an animal including having the pet vaccinated and dewormed but there are so many things that go beyond the routine care of the pets.” Boatright added. “If it is a puppy or kitten you have to make sure your home is “puppy proofed.”
Those steps include making sure there are no extension cords or other items that an animal can chew through and swallow.
Small choking hazards for little children an animal can swallow which potentially can require surgery if the item becomes lodged in the animals intestines.
“Pets can provide a lifetime of joy and companionship to their owners, Boatright said “But they also require a lifetime commitment on behalf of their owners.”
Hope Lecchi can be reached at 660-826-1000