http://alibi.com/blog/39710/article.html

Pets

It’s too cold outside for your pet

By Marisa Demarco [ Mon Dec 5 2011 12:31 PM ]

Animal Protection of New Mexico issued a warning this morning: Creatures left to fend for themselves in these low temperatures—26º today, 5º tonight— could die. The longtime local animal rights organization goes on to say:

It’s a common misconception that dogs and cats won’t get cold because of their fur. If you are cold, your companion animal is cold. Most domestic animals are not well-equipped for cold weather and can easily be susceptible to frost bite and hypothermia.

Signs of hypothermia include: shivering followed by stillness, slow heart beat, lack of coordination, and pale or blue gums.

You can create a winter shelter if it’s not possible to bring your pet indoors. Animal Protection offers some tips:

• It should be tall enough for your pet—henceforth “Sparkles the pit bull”—to sit upright and turn around. If it’s much bigger, Sparkles won’t retain body heat.

• Straw makes good insulation. Blankets or fabric are no good. Once damp, they freeze over. You can get free straw from the city’s animal shelters: Eastside (8920 Lomas NE) and Westside (11800 Sunset Gardens SW).

• Face the shelter’s entrance south or southeast to guard against the elements and maximize sun exposure.

• Cover the opening with a thick piece of rubber—a doormat or carpet scrap might work—to shelter Sparkles from rain and snow.

• Caulk any cracks in the roof and walls.

• Make sure the shelter is elevated a bit off the ground so it doesn’t get waterlogged.

• Don’t forget to break the ice on her water bowl if it freezes over.

If you see an animal left outside in bad weather, you can call the organization’s cruelty hotline at 265-2322 ext. 29 or the attorney general’s Animal Cruelty Task Force at 506-4000.