IOWA CITY — Winter is coming — and Iowans gearing up for cold temperatures also should make sure their pets are going to stay warm.
Chris Whitmore, coordinator with the Iowa City Animal Care and Adoption Center, said one of the most common misconceptions people have is that their pets don’t mind the cold.
“A lot of times people think, if it has hair and a lot of fur, it can stand the cold when really they aren’t any better at dealing with it than we are most times. If it’s cold, they’re going to get cold,” she said.
Whitmore said the simplest thing to do is bring your pets inside when the temperature drops and, if you let them out to use the bathroom or take them on a walk, keep an eye on them in case they start to get cold.
When you are out walking, be mindful of antifreeze, which is toxic to dogs, and wipe any salt of their feet after a walk.
Whitmore also noted that Iowa City’s new tether ordinance — which prohibits pets from being on a tether less than 10 feet in length or unattended for more than 30 minutes — should also help reduce instances of dogs left outside in the cold for too long.
For dogs that have to spend time outside, dog houses should be insulated with hay, not blankets, which can get wet and freeze, she added.
At the shelter, Whitmore said the winter months often are crowded following the annual fall influx of cats to the center.
She reminded people if they see an unowned kitten in the spring to bring them to the shelter when they’re young, rather than wait until the weather starts to turn cold — as kittens are much easier to adopt find homes for.
For feral cats, Whitmore said people can pick up free cat houses at the shelter — located at 3910 Napoleon Lane in Iowa City. The houses are made from Styrofoam shipping boxes with straw insulation.
“They make great little houses,” she said.
Whitmore also reminded rural residents to make a note of giving the hood of their truck or car a bang before they turn the ignition key in the winter, as cats often will seek warmth near the vehicle’s motor.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, provide a number of winter weather tips for pet owners ahead of Nov. 8, which is Winter Weather Awareness Day.
According to a PETA news release, at least 40 cold weather-related companion animal deaths occurred last year.
In the release, animal owners are reminded to use a heavy non-metal water bowl for outdoor animals and make sure to break the ice at least twice a day.
PETA also encourages people to report any incident of an animal being left outside without adequate shelter.
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