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Pet care, safety important during winter months

Though Lincoln County’s weather is hard to pin down around theholidays – swinging from hot to cold and back almost daily – animalenthusiasts are still issuing a statement of concern for the nightsit gets cold enough to frost over.

Brookhaven Animal Rescue League spokesperson Rusty Adcock saidhaving shelter for outdoors animals is of utmost importance inkeeping pets safe and healthy during the cold winter months.

The threat isn’t always just from the weather dropping todangerous temperatures. It can also be from man-made influences aswell.

Cars can be a threat in many different ways.

Cats and kittens will often hide under cars, especially underthe hood, to stay warm when the temperature drops. Adcock said it’snot a bad idea to knock on the hood of your car before you start itto frighten any stowaways into exiting the vehicle.

“If you have a bunch of cats around I would say that wouldprobably be good, most of the time they’re going to flee whenyou’re approaching the car anyway,” Adcock said.

That goes not only for the times animals are in the carsunbeknownst to their owners, but also when they’re left unattendedin a car for extended periods of time.

“It’s a good idea to have a towel or blanket so they can curl upand get warm, especially if they’re small dogs,” said Adcock.

And cars also put off dangerous chemicals that can cling toanimals’ fur and cause poisoning and even death.

Antifreeze is one such poison, and even a few licks of thesubstance can kill a dog or a cat. Strangely, an unlikely source ofantifreeze poisoning is the ever-popular holiday snowglobe, so ifone is broken in the house, it should be cleaned upimmediately.

“You’ve got lickers – dogs that go around and are curious andwill lick things, so if you’ve got antifreeze on the ground,there’s always that absorbent mix that you can put on grease andoil spills,” he said. “Do that when you have antifreeze on theground – put it on there and then sweep it up so you don’t havethat lying around.”

According to www.petshealth.com, if an absorbing mix such as OilDri is not readily available, cat litter works. And once it hasabsorbed the excess toxin, it should be cleaned up and bagged anddisposed of immediately. The spot should then be rinsed with plentyof clean water.

But cars aside, both dogs and cats are at risk when thetemperature drops. Officials advise against shaving animals to theskin regardless of their customary haircut. Dogs who are naturallyshorthaired should be protected.

“I think there are some dogs that just like people havetendencies to enjoy the cold weather, but especially some smallbreeds start shivering,” Adcock said. “For some dogs, sweaters aregood things for keeping them warm. You don’t want to leave themalone in a sweater for long because they could get caught andchoked trying to get them off.”

In addition, when the weather really drops, dogs can easily losetheir way in the ice and snow. While that’s rarely an issue in thispart of the country, Adcock said it is still important to make suredogs wear ID tags.

“Something we found for our dogs are those collars that you canorder that have the name of dog and your phone number stitched intothe collar,” he said. “You can also have reflective stripes on thatcollar, so if they’re lost and it’s dark the light will pick up onreflecting strip.”

Adcock said having your pet fitted with a microchip is also agood idea because most veterinarians will check a microchip when alost dog is brought into their office.

And of course, every pet loves to be coddled and cared for,especially when the weather is cold and it’s warm inside. But pets’reactions to the climate are as individual as their humancounterparts.

“We have a little dog who actually sits in front of the heater,because he likes to be warm,” said Adcock. “Big dogs sometimes getfrisky and like to run when it’s cold.”

Meanwhile, pets that are both indoor and outdoor pets may needextra measures of caution when the mercury drops. Puppies, who canbe especially susceptible to the cold, may need to be paper-trainedin the winter rather than potty-trained to insure they remain warmand healthy.