McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

November 9, 2013

Don’t forget pets in prepping for winter

By Joyce McNally
Special Correspondent

McALESTER — I’ve said this before, but it must be repeated from time to time.

Don’t forget that we have an Animal Ordinance in McAlester.

Section 10-75(a) states … “’Adequate shelter’ means sufficient space to allow each animal to easily stand, sit, lie, turn about, and make all other normal body movements in a comfortable, normal position for the animal and interact safely with other animals in the enclosure.

“The shelter shall provide protection from the weather elements, specifically wind, rain, direct sun during times of excessive heat, extreme cold temperatures and will have clean dry flooring.”

We’ve had several instances recently where people have left puppies and adult dogs outside in this cold weather without any shelter.

If you have inside dogs, they still need time outside, but keep that time limited.

If you have an outside dog, you still need a warm, dry shelter for your dog to get in out of the weather. Doghouses that are plastic are not insulated, but they can help keep your pet out of the direct wind. You also need to add straw or a big blanket for warmth and check the inside of the doghouse to make sure it stays dry.

Preferably, the opening to the doghouse should be more to one side than in the center. This will allow your dog a place to lie down out of the wind. You could also hang a rubber mat or piece of carpet over the doorway.

And even if it’s cold outside, your pets still need fresh water.

If your dog is a short-haired breed or getting on in years, keep it toasty in cold weather with a warm coat or sweater. Make sure it covers from the neck to the base of the tail, as well as the chest.

Puppies in particular are more sensitive to cold than older dogs so you may want to paper-train your puppy inside. And if you have an ill or elderly dog, or a breed that can’t tolerate low temperatures, take it outdoors only long enough to relieve itself.

When your dog comes in out of inclement weather, you should thoroughly wipe its legs and stomach and always check its paw pads. Encrusted snow and ice may cause the pads to bleed.

You’ll also want to wipe off any salt or other chemicals used to melt ice.  These can hurt your dog if it ingests any particles while licking its paws.

One of the problems when the temperature drops is a tendency for outdoor cats to sleep under the hoods of cars. It may be warmer, but a car’s fan belt can kill or injure them when the motor is started. If there are outdoor cats in your neighborhood, bang loudly on the hood of your car and wait a few seconds before starting the engine.

If you own a cat, it’s better to keep it inside on cold days.

Antifreeze, while essential to a car’s cooling system, may be very dangerous to your pets if they are exposed to it. Be sure to clean up any spills from your vehicle immediately, and you might even consider switching to a propylene glycol-based antifreeze like Prestone Low Tox, which provides an added margin of safety for pets and wildlife.

If you have any questions about shelters, or are in need of a doghouse, call PAWS. Don’t forget to schedule a spay or neuter for your pal. The number to call is 918-470-7497.

Joyce McNally is a PAWS volunteer and advocate for prevention of pet abuse and neglect. Comments or questions can be directed to her at