Did Winter catch you unprepared?

With shopping, travel and the holidays having an extended Fall season was great!  No bad hair days on Christmas morning, no white-knuckled drives to Grandma’s house, and no house-full of guests dragging in snowy boots!  All-in-all, this was a fantastic end to a year.

With the New Year came new weather; snow, ice and blustery cold winds.  This weather was inevitable, and if you procrastinated in prepping for another Michigan winter, you’ll want to make sure to catch up quickly!  Here’s our best tips for getting your home ready for whatever this winter has to bring.

Outdoor Pets

We’d love for every pet to be indoors, safe and warm and cozied up by a fire but there are a number of outdoor pets that for whatever reason aren’t brought inside during bad weather.  If you are the owner of an outdoor pet, you need to be aware that you are responsible for providing adequate shelter and provisions to keep your pet healthy during the winter months.

Dogs are required by law to have clean, dry bedding and an area free from feces and debris.  Many dog owners will use old blankets or comforters and change or wash them as they become dirty.  Many others use straw.  Whatever you choose, make sure it’s dry and can be replaced as needed.  When snow melts and the area around your dog house gets muddy, your dog will be bringing all that dampness and dirt into his shelter.  Keep up on removing any feces build-up, and keep food and water dishes away from areas where your dog will be going to the bathroom.

If you haven’t already done it, take the time to check out the structure of your dog house, rabbit hutch, or other outdoor structure.  Does it leak?  Can you see daylight from the inside?  Does the roof need patching?  Your pet will be spending a significant amount of time inside whatever you have provided, and it needs to be in a state of good repair.  Write out a list of repairs or updates that need to be made and head over to your local hardware store.  Discounted building supplies can often be found at Habitat for Humanity Re-store’s, or even online using Craigslist.

Having a structure isn’t enough.  You’ll need to make sure your dog house, hutch or shelter is well protected from the wind, snow and cold.  Placing your shelter alongside an existing building that can protect it from some of the elements is helpful, but you might also consider using tarps, plastic sheeting,  or wood panels to further block out the wind and snow.

Elevating your shelter is also an effective way to keep out dirt and debris, and hold in heat.  If you can get your shelter on a palette or other platform and insulate beneath the shelter, you reduce heat loss and moisture from seeping in.

Peeling paint and faded stains on wood surfaces will speed up the decay of your structure.  This is going to be a Spring or indoor project, but make sure you get to it as soon as possible to avoid health hazards to your pet and to extend the life of your shelter.

Your pet can also be bulked up to help withstand winter conditions!  Just like humans, animals are made up of mostly water.  Making sure your pets nutrition is ideal for building a healthy later of fat and a hair coat that is in good condition will help to retain body heat.  Check with your veterinarian about a proper winter diet.  Pets will burn an increased number of calories to produce heat and stay warm.  You’ll need to make sure the diet your pet is on has enough calories to maintain a healthy body mass.

Even if your shelter is in great shape and your pet is beefy and fluffy, there will be days that are just too cold and dangerous for any domesticated animal to remain outside.  In these cases, it’s best to bring your pet inside.  If for any reason you cannot bring the pet into the living spaces of your home, try to allow access to the basement, a laundry room, or the garage.  There are some pets that cannot withstand a typical Michigan winter, even with a good shelter due to age, health or breed related reasons.

Use your best judgement or the opinion of your veterinarian to determine if your pet can be kept comfortably outdoors.  If you’re looking to get a new pet and you have no plans to bring it inside, look closely at your reasons for wanting a pet before adding an animal to that lifestyle.  At all times, your decisions need to be made in the best interest of the people and pets in your care. If you need to make sacrifices to your pet in order to keep the people in your home healthy and safe, you may want to consider re-homing your pet where it can receive a higher standard of care.

In the event of severe weather, power outages or evacuations, make sure to have enough pet food on hand to last a week, including water for your pet.  You may also want to keep an emergency kit handy that includes supplies for first aid, enough transport carriers for your pets and dry bedding.

One year ago, on Friday, January 9th, 2015, a 193-vehicle crash on I-94 created a hazmat situation that resulted in a police-mandated evacuation of residents in a 3-mile radius of the accident.  If you were asked to evacuate your home right now, would you be prepared?  Having a “Go-Kit” prepared and a plan of where to go could mean the difference between life and death for your outdoor pet(s).

It is not illegal to have outdoor pets.  If you’re seeing an outdoor dog that appears to be without essential shelter, food, or water, contact your local animal services department right away and have them check it out.  They will be able to bring the owner up to compliance and offer tips to improve the living conditions of the dog or outdoor pet.  Animal welfare professionals cannot remove an animal without cause.  If an outdoor pet is in a state of good health and has the minimum required provisions, they will not be able to legally remove the pet or charge the owner with neglect.

If an animal is not moving and does not seem alert, call your local animal authorities right away.  Outdoor dogs, cats and rabbits do not hibernate.  Aside from sleeping and napping, they should be alert and active throughout the winter months.

Straw can be found at retail stores, farm and garden centers, and local farms.  If you need help finding straw, here is a list of places you can try:

Brown Hay & Grain (269) 628-4426
26366 M-40 Gobles 49055
Standard Bale $5.00

Family Farm & Home (269) 927-1983
1391 Cinema Way Benton Harbor 49022
Standard Bale $5.75

Family Farm & Home (269) 278-2222
1326 W Broadway Three Rivers 49093
Standard Bale $5.99

Family Farm & Home (269) 686-9309
1596 Lincoln Road Allegan 49010
Standard Bale $7.00

Farm N Garden, Inc (269) 381-0596
1003 Staples Ave Kalamazoo 49007
Standard Bale $6.95

Kalamazoo Landscape (269) 375-8000
5111 S 9th St Kalamazoo 49009
Standard Bale $5.50

Mulder Landscape (269) 345-6900
3333 Ravine Rd Kalamazoo 49006
Standard Bale $6.00

Oak Ridge Feed (269) 353-3332
7035 Stadium Dr Kalamazoo 49009
Standard Bale $6.00

Prudential Nursey (269) 649-1610
13038 S 24th St Schoolcraft 49087
Standard Bale $5.00

Romence Gardens (269) 323-8310
9660 Shaver Rd Portage 49024
Standard Bale $5.99

Southwestern MI Feed (269) 674-3720
231 S Paw Paw St Lawrence 49064
Standard Bale $5.50

The Feed Bag (269) 629-9586
8532 N 32nd St Richland 49083
Standard Bale $5.25

Tractor Supply (269) 381-0904
6285 Gull Rd Kalamazoo 49048
50lb Compressed Bale $10.99

Tractor Supply (269) 323-3199
8610 Shaver Rd Portage 49024
50lb Compressed Bale $10.99

Tractor Supply (269) 685-1001
1221 M-89 Plainwell 49080
50lb Compressed Bale $10.99

Tractor Supply (269) 979-8372
6360 B Dr North Battle Creek 49014
50lb Compressed Bale $10.99

Tractor Supply (269) 657-2107
1000 S. Kalamazoo Ave Paw Paw 49079
50lb Compressed Bale $10.99

Tractor Supply (269) 279-5296
301 US 131 Three Rivers 49093
50lb Compressed Bale $10.99

Wedels (269) 345-1195
5020 Texas Dr Kalamazoo 49009
Standard Bale $6.99

As always, the Kalamazoo Humane Society is happy to provide shelter and straw to pets in need.  Straw can be picked up free of charge for those that can’t afford to purchase it at our office at 4239 S. Westnedge Ave during our regular open hours.  We can also work with owners to get a dog house.  If you know of an owner struggling with food, straw or shelter for a pet, please have them call us at 269-345-1181 or visit us on Westnedge.

Comments

  1. An excellent article. Thanks so much for sharing your expertise in this area and, hopefully, the number of suffering outdoor pets will be reduced.

    Like

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