Protecting pets in cold weather

Extremely low temperatures can be dangerous for pets. (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Extremely low temperatures can be dangerous for pets. (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Shelters for cats can keep them safe in cold weather. (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Shelters for cats can keep them safe in cold weather. (Source: WAVE 3 News)

NEW ALBANY, IN (WAVE) –  Temperatures are falling in WAVE Country. As cold as the low temperatures may feel to us, they can be dangerous or even deadly to your pets.

But you can help keep them warmer this winter.

Louisville Metro Animal Services said they've gotten about two dozen calls to check on cold animals during the recent cold snap.

The cold days and even colder nights have animal control officer Carrie Mooser spending a lot of her days driving around.

"Weather like we're having right now? I could easily get eight to 15 calls a day," Carrie Mooser, Senior Animal Control Officer at the New Albany Floyd County Animal Control and Shelter, said.

Mooser said often many of the animals they check on are fine. Some need to be taken to the shelter. Others need a few changes to stay warm, like putting straw in an outdoor shelter for a dog or cat instead of blankets.

"You just want to give the animals at least several inches that they can dig into. So it depends on the animal, certainly a beagle isn't going to need as much as a shepherd," Mooser said.

Even animals that live outside most of the year aren't used to this kind of cold air.

"We always recommend straw. That's what it's made for, is absorbing moisture and providing warmth," Theresa Stilger, Animal Care Coordinator at the New Albany Floyd County Animal Control and Shelter, said.

Stilger said if you can, bring pets inside or even into the garage. Just make sure there aren't any anti-freeze or other chemicals nearby that could make them sick.

If you can't bring your pets indoors, Stilger advised people to make sure they have warm shelter away from the wind and plenty of food and water. Stilger recommended using a heated water dish, but if you don't have one, change the water in the bowl multiple times a day so the water doesn't freeze over.

And if you see an animal you think is neglected, call your local animal shelter so they can check it out.

Teeya Barnes with LMAS said if you can't bring your dog or cat inside during the cold weather, make sure you're leaving plenty of food and water out.

For outdoor cats, the Styrofoam coolers can serve as cat houses.

Stilger said it's an easy way to make it comfortable for pets out in the cold.

"I think it's very important that we try to provide them with as much assistance as we can and these are a good, safe cheap alternative," Stilger said.

The New Albany Floyd County Animal Control and Shelter has Styrofoam coolers that have been converted into feral cat, or community cat shelters. You just need to pick one out or make one yourself by cutting out a hole and then putting some straw inside. The small piece of shelter can help keep animals warm during the winter.

You can make them yourself or pick them up at the shelter. The New Albany Floyd Animal County Animal Control and Shelter made a video about them here.

Even if you don't have a pet, give your engine a quick peek or tap on the hood a few times to make sure there's not an animal warming up inside.

"We recently had a cat brought in that had its paws burned. And what we believe happened was the cat was cold and decided to crawl up in the engine to stay warm and its paws were burned. So the cat was unhappy and in pain when it was brought in," Barnes said.

She said Louisville Metro Animal Services was able to take care of the cat and nurse it back to health. It's now up for adoption at LMAS.

LMAS also takes donations of insulated animal shelters to pass out to outdoor dogs and cats in need of them.

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