Cold Temperatures Cause Concern for Animals Left Outdoors
With the onset of cold weather, Metro Animal Services (MAS) has seen a significant increase in service requests concerning animals residing outdoors. MAS is urging pet owners to take a few commonsense precautions to safeguard their pets against bitterly cold temperatures.
“Despite their fur coats, domesticated animals like cats and dogs depend on people to protect them from the elements,” says Jackie Gulbe, assistant director for community relations. “Many pet owners will claim that their pets like to be outside, but that doesn’t mean it’s safe for them.”
MAS offers the following suggestions to help keep all pets safe through the cold winter months.
• Don’t leave pets outdoors when the temperature drops below freezing (32 degrees). Dogs need outdoor exercise, but take care not to keep them out for lengthy periods during very cold weather. Short-coated dogs may feel more comfortable wearing a sweater during walks. Dogs and cats are safer indoors in all sorts of weather, and animals should never be left outdoors unattended as they risk being stolen or otherwise harmed. Dogs who stray away from home might lose their scent in the snow and ice, making it harder to find their way home.
• Windchill can threaten a pet’s life, no matter what the temperature. Outdoor dogs must be protected by a dry, draft-free doghouse that is large enough to allow the dog to sit and lie down comfortably, but small enough to hold in his/her body heat. Bigger is not better in this case. The floor should be raised a few inches off the ground and covered with cedar shavings or straw. The house should be turned to face away from the wind, and the doorway should be covered with a flap of heavy waterproof fabric or heavy plastic.
• Pets spending a lot of time outdoors need more food in the winter. Keeping warm depletes energy. Routinely check your pet’s water dish to make certain the water is fresh and not frozen. Use plastic food and water bowls rather than metal; when the temperature is low, your pet’s tongue can stick and freeze to metal.
• Warm car engines are dangerous for cats and small wildlife. Parked cars attract small animals who may crawl up under the hood looking for warmth. To avoid injuring any hidden animals, bang on your car’s hood to scare them away before starting your engine.
• Never leave your dog, cat or any other animal alone in a car in very cold weather. A car can act like a refrigerator and your animal could freeze.
• Old, young or sick animals – and certain breeds – can be more sensitive to the cold. Be sure to take that into consideration when letting them outdoors.
• Deicing chemicals are hazardous. The salt and other chemicals used to melt snow and ice can irritate the pads of your pet’s feet. They can also cause stomach upset if ingested. Wipe your pet’s feet with a damp towel every time after coming in from outdoors, even if you don’t see salt on walkways.
• Antifreeze is a deadly poison. Its sweet taste attracts animals and children. Wipe up spills and store antifreeze out of reach. Better yet, use an antifreeze/coolant made with propylene glycol; if swallowed in small amounts, it will not hurt pets, wildlife or people.
Dogs and cats are social animals who crave human companionship, and the best prescription for winter’s woes is to keep them inside with you and your family.
Mayor Creates Food Policy Advisory Council
Early last month, Mayor Abramson and Public Health and Wellness Acting Director, Dr. Matt Zahn, announced the creation of a Food Policy Advisory Council (FPAC) whose goal is to assist in the development of a healthy, equitable food economy. The FPAC is an obesity prevention strategy of the $7.9 million federal Communities Putting Prevention to Work (CPPW) grant, which the Mayor’s Healthy Hometown Movement received earlier last year. The grant focuses on long- and short-term strategies to support systems, the environment and policies that increase physical activity and better nutrition. There are currently 39 active Food Policy Councils across the United States and Canada. The councils work to identify and propose innovative solutions to improve the local food system by making it more equitable and sustainable, spurring local economic development.
“Louisville’s Food Policy Advisory Council will bring together a diverse group of people from local neighborhoods, educational institutions, restaurants, grocers, local farmers, faith-based organizations, nonprofits and public and private healthcare organizations to encourage a robust, sustainable local food economy and a healthier population,” says Mayor Abramson.
Applications for the 15-member council were taken in December and will be reviewed by an FPAC development committee who will then make recommendations for membership to Mayor-elect Greg Fischer. For more information, visit www.louisvilleky.gov/health or call Josh Jennings at (502) 574-5716.