10/29/2009 5:18:00 PM Pet Corner: Batten down the hatches for man's best friend
The Verde Valley Humane Society "Pet of the Week" is going to be "Ladybird" our beautiful Dane/Hound mix. This sweet lady has long legs with just as long of a list of fine qualities. Ladybird will be one of the first animals that will warmly greet you as you enter the kennel. Her adoption fee has been discounted by $20 thanks to the generous animal lovers in the Verde Valley.
During this time of the year, doesn't the weather seem almost perfect? The days are so warm and the evenings and mornings have that crisp chill in the air.
The best of both worlds, that's the way I look at it. I love this time of year. But, don't be fooled thinking that because you live in Arizona that winter isn't cold.
Soon Jack Frost will be nipping at our noses. Then we know to expect the frigid temperatures, winds, rain and even ice on our windshields.
We get so spoiled living in this climate that we think our winter weather is rugged. It isn't near as bad as living in Ohio in the winter with 16 inches of snow on the ground with four-foot icicles hanging from the roof.
Before the weather really changes for good, it's the perfect time to offer some tips for cold weather animal care. The care of our animals needs to change with the seasons.
If you winterize now while the days are so warm you'll be very happy you did in another few weeks. I guess it's a good idea just to get it done and not take any more chances.
Here's another tip that will benefit the entire family. Plus, you'll have a good time doing this little chore.
While you're winterizing let's get those Christmas lights up. That will save a lot of complaining in November or December.
By the way, that good time isn't a promise. Last year my son and I had a great time (well I did) putting the lights up all over the front of our house.
When the weather changed to winter and I was ready to plug them in, we found out that we had them up totally backwards from the plug. Not such a good time.
Next let's talk about the animals. It's so different if the animals live in your home opposed to living in a shelter.
Even before the holidays come to mind, the first thing that I think about is that our "furry friends" have to be getting cold too.
The wind is whipping as I am sitting at my desk writing, so you know it's going to get even colder as night arrives.
Think about it. The animals here are lost, in a new place being kept outside and no one has come to take them home. It's hard for me to accept even though I see it all year long.
If you drive by the shelter in the next couple of weeks you will see some extra outside activity going on.
No, we aren't hanging Christmas lights, it's the crew winterizing for the cold days and nights ahead. It gets very cold in those outside kennels and not much warmer inside.
You'll see the kennel techs beginning to hanging tarps. You will also see them passing out fresh blankets and keeping as few dogs outside as possible.
Sometimes we forget that our animals get cold. They're always wearing their gorgeous fur coats; they look so protected from the elements.
The truth is that they get cold just as we do. It's our job to be sensitive to their needs. Please don't think that they are "just animals" and you don't need to worry about them.
It's especially hard to accept the living conditions this year. I look next door at the new adoption facility and know that we have all of that extra room to keep the animals out of the elements.
As many of you already know, we still need $150,000 to complete the facility and get our permit to occupy the building.
Knowing that we are so close is just heartbreaking in some ways. If everyone would just pitch in and help us on our "last mile" there wouldn't be a need to house the animals outside. Plus everyone that lived inside would be warm in the winter and cool in the summer.
Don't get me wrong, it feels wonderful that we have almost completed a new facility that will service the unwanted or stray animals in the Verde Valley.
Think about this for a minute. If 150,000 people sent us just one dollar, we'd be able to move into the new facility in just a couple of months.
Now that's really something to think about isn't it? I have another idea. Let's collect as many dollars as possible and mail them to the VVHS Building Fund at P.O. Box 1429 Cottonwood, AZ 86326.
Let's get to those tips for your animals as the weather turns cold. Be prepared and things will go very smoothly.
Are you wondering if you should still take walks with your best furry friend? Going for walks in the cold weather will not hurt your "best friend" if it is thought out wisely.
Consider the temperature, the length of the walk and the health of your animal. Breed consideration is also very important. Those little ones don't usually like the extremes.
A brisk walk in the morning may require a sweater for some breeds of dogs. As I am out and about I see the little dogs with their sweaters on.
They seem to get chilled with even the slightest chill in the air, or we get the impression that they are cold.
If your dog stays outside while you are gone and uses a dog house, it should be elevated off the ground several inches. Next the doorway should be covered with burlap or heavy plastic.
Give the doghouse a protected southern exposure and use straw or cedar shavings for bedding. Cloth bedding can hold moisture that can freeze.
Animals that spend their day outside may need more food or a change in diet. Keeping warm depletes their energy and burns calories. Check with your veterinarian to see if your animal needs special care.
Cold weather is especially bad for the paws on your animal. If the pads are cracked or dry, try some petroleum jelly or even some A&D ointment.
This may offer some comfort. Isn't there a way that you could just bring the poor little thing in the house?
Make sure that you use heavy plastic or insulated food and water bowls. Your pet's tongue can get stuck to metal dishes.
Keep the dishes free from ice formations that could prohibit your animal from keeping hydrated or from eating.
Cats that are kept outside will seek a warm place to take shelter. They may choose under the hood of a car.
There is a warm engine in there that will help protect them from the cold. Under the hood is a very dangerous place for an animal to seek shelter.
It's an excellent idea to peek inside the hood, honk your horn or make noises on the hood before you start your engine.
For all of the animals that are fortunate enough to be family members and live in the house, the instructions are much less complicated for their care. Lucky animals!
If your "best friend" comes in wet from a romp outside, it's best that you towel dry or blow-dry him immediately.
You don't want him to get chilled. Remember that wet animals never smell very good either. Get that pooch or kitty dry as soon as possible, for everyone's sake.
Inside your pet will need a draft-free warm place to rest. Make your choice wisely.
Choose your pet's resting area wisely. We humans know all too well what if feels like to step on a piece of tile first thing in the morning.
Needless to say, the kitchen floor just might not be the best place for a warm bed. If your pet has to live on the tile, please give him a nice blanket or bed to rest in.
An insulated bed or padding in an area without a draft would work best for your pet to keep warm and cozy.
Make sure that the bedding is washed frequently. Not only does this practice help with odor control, but also it will help with flea infestation.
My last tip for the day is about you. Light a fire, sit back with your loved ones and enjoy Mother Nature once again at her finest. There is beauty in every single day that we wake up to.
Enjoy some music or your favorite movie while sipping on your favorite hot drink. Stay warm and please always remember the homeless animals at VVHS.