Frigid temperatures may be gone for now, but winter is far from over and Veterinarian Michael Joyner, owner of East Lake Veterinary Hospital in Killeen, said now is a great time to prepare your pets for cold weather, if they aren’t already.
“The changing of temperatures are much more difficult for pets to adjust to, because they don’t sweat like humans do. So, hot or cold are difficult to adjust to as quickly as humans do,” Joyner said, adding it’s good to be prepared for cold weather, rather than trying to get ready at the last minute.
Joyner recommended pets be brought in from the cold, if possible, or warm bedding be placed in their doghouse.
“If you’re afraid your pet will mess in the house while you’re at work, I recommend getting a crate and leaving them in there while you’re gone,” he said.
For animals that are used to being inside, Joyner said it causes the animal to artificially change how their undercoat grows in, possibly making it fail to adequately keep the pet warm.
“Young animals lack the thermal fat barriers,” Joyner said.
He said to be mindful of leaving your pet outdoors for long periods during below-freezing temperatures.
If leaving the pet in the garage, be sure to not start the vehicle.
“They can get carbon monoxide poisoning, just as well as we can.”
Animals can also get frostbite, although Joyner said he hasn’t seen that much in the area.
“On the tips of their ears, and the pads of their feet” are the most common places Joyner said frostbite can occur.
Stoves, and other heated objects, should be monitored, “Animals may be looking for sources of heat, to warm themselves, and accidentally get burned.”
Ed Tucker, manager of Killeen Animal Services, said there is no law requiring an owner to bring a pet indoors, but owners are required to provide their animals with a shelter.
“The shelter must have three sides and a roof, and must have an artificial light, such as a light bulb, or bedding, such as hay or blankets, to keep them warm,” he said.
Tucker said it is also required to provide water, and it is against city ordinance to tether the pet, unless you are with them, such as when they are on a leash.
“Now if the dog doesn’t want to get into his house, that’s between the owner and the dog, why he’s not getting into his doghouse,” Tucker said.
Sometimes, Killeen Animal Services will get calls about an animal inside a person’s car.
“We try to help, but if it involves removing car parts, then they will have to take it to a mechanic,” Tucker said, adding that sometimes animals will seek shelter under vehicles.
To avoid accidentally running a pet over, he suggested people should look under their vehicles before driving away.
Tucker said violation of the city ordinances could result in a citation.
He said city ordinance requires all pets be spayed or neutered, microchipped, and vaccinated for rabies. “Breeders will have to come in and apply for a permit,” he said.
Tucker said Emancipet in Killeen is a low-cost spay/neuter veterinary clinic. Microchips are offered at the Killeen Animal Shelter for $15.
Tucker said the community needs to be patient when it comes to his department.
“We do our best to get out there. We answer calls as best we can. The front desk sometimes gets overwhelmed and can’t always answer the phones,” he said.
The city is hiring an animal control officer, but because of budget cuts, lost two positions.
For pet owners, Tucker said to be responsible.
“You took on the responsibility to raise a pet. Just like when you have children, you take on the requirement to raise children, so the pet becomes part of your family. Be a responsible pet owner and take care of your animal,” he said.
The Killeen Animal Shelter has about 15 dogs up for adoption and four or five cats. If you wish to volunteer with the shelter, Tucker said to come down and fill out an application. The city will conduct a background check, and then you can volunteer for a number of positions within the shelter.
In addition, the shelter is seeking donations of cat and dog food, cat litter, laundry soap, cleaning supplies, blankets or towels, food bowls, kitten formula, old newspapers, litter boxes, and cat and dog treats and toys. All donations can be dropped off at the animal shelter at 3118 Commerce Drive from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.