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Soft Paws: Preparing dogs for winter


By Charlene Marchand

For Capital Region Independent Media

Daisy is an 8-year-old Domestic Shorthair mix, pictured with Animal Care Technician Trinity Abney. She mainly lounges around during the day and greets people as they come over to her. Don’t let her grumpy stare fool you, she is nothing but a lover! She stands up as people come over and is ready for any cuddles. She is totally content being held and would make the perfect lap-cat. She doesn’t mind the other cats in the room, as long as they respect her space. If you are looking for the sweetest girl to lounge about your house, Daisy would be an excellent fit!  Contributed photo

The time is here and now to prepare your outside or sometimes-outside dogs for the winter season to follow.

Messages about an increase in food and calories must be heeded, as well as making sure that drinking water is always available. Snow is absolutely never a water replacement. Equine heated rubber buckets or de-icers are available at your local Agway or online at www.kvvet.com.

Your not-to-be-cold canine shelter needs to be of sufficient size for movement, insulated, and ideally in a protected area. Topping an outside kennel with plywood over your doghouse makes an excellent shelter, which gives assurance that dogs are then protected from rain and snow. Dogs that are on tie-outs could have their houses placed under decks or trees for added protection. Many dogs will pull blankets and beds out of their houses. As long as the house is well-made and prepared, the cozy comforter can be forsaken! If you decide to use straw, make sure that it is changed frequently. Damp, wet bedding is a breeding ground for skin infections.

Do not forget that it is against the law for a dog to be outside without sufficient shelter if it is housed outside. Crates are NOT sufficient and are not law compliant. Boxes, lean-tos, etc. are no-no’s as well.

If you’re tending to feral or semi-feral felines, try to supply an indoor haven. Barns, sheds, garages, outbuildings, etc. with doors cracked open can prevent cats that are on their own from succumbing to freezing temperatures and frostbite.

I have a “rule” that most dogs should be brought in at 20°F. My Husky and Malamute (and Shepherd) friends typically chuckle at this, because most of these breeds are outside snoozing at 0° or below!

Please call law enforcement if you think a small animal is in jeopardy. Though requirements for equines differ greatly from smaller or large companion animals, most outside horses should have run-in sheds. Many do well without, as long as they have sufficient feed.

I remember racing up to my barn to bring SoFar and Dudley inside during a sleet storm. If you think they wanted in — they didn’t. Those rotund, well-fed bodies were keeping them warm, and they were enjoying the change in the scenery. If you see horses that look in jeopardy, please call us. Many owners are innocent to proper cold-weather management. Others may need to be prosecuted.

Thanks to so many who have been helping to fill our food bank shelves. We still (and regularly) need DRY dog and cat food, biscuits and treats.

Feel free to call us with any questions at 518-828-6044 or visit our website at www.cghs.org. Our food bank is open to any from the public in need of pet food or for those wishing to donate food from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily. Spay/neuter clinics for cats are $86 male or female, including a rabies vaccination and a 5-in-1 feline distemper combination vaccination. Nail clipping services are available every Saturday from 10-11 a.m. at the shelter for a donation of $10 for cats and $15 for dogs (currently prepaid only).

Charlene Marchand is the chairperson of the Columbia-Greene Humane Society/SPCA Board of Directors. She may be contacted at cghsaaron@gmail.com.

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