Winter Precautions

Greetings from the volunteers and furry “residents” of Have A Heart Pet Shelter! We hope everyone enjoyed a nice Thanksgiving holiday and now we gear up for the Christmas season. We are thankful for the continuing donations that are still coming in as a result of our Annual Soup and Chili Supper and auction, as well as receipts of Giving Tuesday. Thank you all!

We are still in need of more volunteers to help continue our work. If you have a few hours you can give, please call or come see us at the Shelter at 657 Highway 202 West in Yellville, 870-449-7387. We would love to talk with you about ways you can help! We are currently open Wednesday through Saturday, 9 am to 3 pm.

Next week, we will return with our Pets of the Week so be watching. For now, let’s talk a bit about preparing our furbabies for winter weather. In an ideal situation, remember if it’s too cold outside for you to stay out there very long, it’s likely too cold for the dogs and cats. Of course, some dogs such as Huskies and Malamutes have thick fur coats and enjoy the cooler weather. But even they need special attention in the cold. Short-haired, very young, and senior dogs are at greatest risk of cold-related problems.

Some tips to help our furry friends deal with winter include giving them a bit more food. Animals burn up calories keeping warm so the extra food will keep them replenished. Watch out for frozen paws and be sure to dry them off and remove any caked on ice. If feeding/watering outside, replace metal bowls with plastic ones, as a warm, wet tongue can quickly freeze to metal.

Remember that antifreeze can be attractive to animals, because it has a “sweet” taste, but ingesting even a small amount can do extensive damage to their kidneys and quickly prove fatal. So always clean up any spills and store antifreeze in tightly closed containers out of the reach of pets.

Warm shelter to help the animals stay out of the elements is critical. If your dog or cat must stay outside for any extended period of time, be sure to provide a well-insulated house with the door facing away from the wind.

Even if you don’t have pets of your own, you can still help with strays. Feral cats, in particular, are at great risk from the hazards of winter weather. There are many good videos available online about how to make a shelter for little cost and quite easily. Some suggestions include to stuff these shelters with straw, which allows the cats to burrow for additional warmth. The shelter should be large enough for at least a couple of felines, but not so large that the natural warmth of the cats’ bodies escapes. If you’re feeding such cats, try to mix in a little bit of wet food with dry, as the wet typically has more nutrients which the animals especially need to survive the winter elements.

One final note, it is true that cats, in particular, but really all animals will seek out warm shelter as temperatures drop. This is especially true around our vehicles. Please be alert to the potential for cats under the hood of your car before starting your engine.

These are just a few of the most common suggestions for preparing dogs and cats for winter. You can find many more ideas with a simple online search. Good luck, stay warm, and thank you for caring about the creatures.