Our view: Protect pets from cold weather, too 

Published 12:12 pm Thursday, December 22, 2016

Wednesday marked the official start of winter. Although Kentucky has experience unseasonably warm weather through the holiday season, colder days are on their way.

When frigid temperatures hit, it is important to remember to protect your pets from the dangers of winter weather.

According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), exposure to winter’s dry, cold air and chilly rain, sleet and snow can lead to illness and death.

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It’s not true that dogs and cats are more resistant to freezing temperatures because of their fur.

The ASPCA and other animal welfare organizations offer these basic tips to protect pets during cold weather:

— Because pets burn extra energy to stay warm, feed your pet more during cold weather months to provide much-needed calories. No matter the temperature, always be sure animals have enough food and fresh water. If your pet’s water dish is outside where it freezes, consider investing in a heated bowl.

— Coats and booties can protect pets from the cold weather while outside.

— Sick, older or very young pets are more sensitive to cold weather. Take them outside only for “bathroom breaks.”

— If you can’t bring a pet inside your home or garage, provide shelter, like a dog house, with straw bedding. If the door opening is too large and allows heat to escape, make the opening smaller. Ensure that the area stays dry and protected from the wind.

The Humane Society of the United States suggests if you encounter a pet left in the cold, politely let the owner know you are concerned. Some people genuinely don’t know the risk that cold weather poses to their pets or livestock, and will be quick to correct any problem.

If someone you raise these concerns with responds poorly or continues to neglect their animals, contact the Clark County Animal Shelter, animal control or law enforcement.

In the days before central heating, frigid cold nights were called “three-dog nights.” The saying meant it was so cold it took three dogs sleeping with you to keep you warm.

If you’re a pet owner, it’s your responsibility to ensure the animal is kept warm and safe.

If you don’t want to invite your furry friends in the bed with you on a cold night, at least take precautions to keep them safe and warm.