Protecting Cold-Weather Injuries to Livestock and Pets
When temperatures plunge below zero, prevention is the key to dealing with hypothermia, frostbite and other cold weather injuries to livestock and pets. Making sure animals receive adequate food, water, dry bedding, shelters and/or windbreaks are the biggest steps toward preventing cold-weather maladies.
Animals suffering from frostbite don’t exhibit pain and symptoms are not noticeable right away. It may be up to two weeks before the injury becomes evident as freeze-damaged tissue starts to peel away. Treatment by a veterinarian should be sought immediately.
Look for early signs of disease and injury. Severe cold-weather injuries or death primarily occur in the very old or very young and also those that are already debilitated. Sudden death can often be the result of undetected infection particularly pneumonia. Those animals are under stress already and the weather puts them under such an energy stress that they put everything into producing heat. If you have excessive, sudden livestock deaths consult a veterinarian immediately to check the remaining animals for infections.
As storms approach consider ways to protect your pets as well. Putting identification tags on your animals will help in their return if lost.
Provide warm, sheltered areas for your pets so they can be protected from severe cold and wind. Make sure they have plenty of fresh water, and feed them moist or canned food so they will need less water to drink.
If you are going to be gone during the winter months make sure you have a reliable person who will care for your pet during your absence, and that they will make sure the animal is well protected if severe weather arrives. If you do not have such a person then arrange to have your animals kenneled or leave them with your veterinarian.
Pets should not be left outside for extended periods of time tied or on leashes without adequate shelter, especially if they are house pets and used to being indoors.