8 Ways To Keep Your Pet Safe and Healthy This Winter
It's cold outside, baby. You know it and your pet knows it. In fact, your cat is probably ensconced on a heating vent or radiator or sprawled in front of that space heater—and be careful when you go to flop down on that cozy couch because it already be occupied!
Photo credit: Shutterstock
OK, so you don't have to worry about the cat, assuming he's an indoor cat, which he should be. His needs won't change much from season to season.
Your dog is a different matter. Most dogs have to go outside several times a day, and the exercise can be even more beneficial in the winter when metabolism tends to slow down. But just as you bundle up for those walks, pay attention to your dog's comfort too.
1. The idea of a dog wardrobe may seem silly, and you are justified in laughing at those little motorcycle jackets, dresses and Halloween costumes you've seen for dogs at the pet store. (The Superman cape serves no practical purpose!) But for some dogs, sweaters and buckle-on blankets make good sense. Obviously if she's a shaggy, winter-worthy breed like a husky or malamute, she won't need a jacket to spend some time outside. But if you have a small dog or a short-coated breed, even a brief walk outside in chilly or windy weather can make her miserable. Take the time to give her some cover, especially if it's raining or snowing.
2. Don't forget the feet! Yes, those doggie galoshes can seem even sillier than the costumes, but imagine how you'd feel if you had to walk on the icy ground in your bare feet. Not only that but the de-icing chemicals found in streets, driveways and sidewalks can be an irritant to your pet's paws. If your dog is resistant to wearing anything on her paws, make sure to wipe them with a soft damp rag or towel as soon as you get back inside.
3. If your living situation means your dog has to live outside or spend any major portion of the day there, it should go without saying that she has secure, accessible shelter out of the wind and elements and that the shelter is raised up so she doesn't have to sit or lie on cold, damp ground. The floor should also be covered with wood shavings or straw to absorb the damp. Make sure she has plenty of food and water—and check the water often to make sure it's not frozen.
4. Be a good pet neighbor. If you spot a dog tied up outside exposed to the elements with no shelter, take some notes, take pictures and keep an eye on the situation. Don't automatically assume an animal is being abused, but if it's more than a one-time thing and you're very sure the animal is uncomfortable or suffering, report it to your local animal control officer. You wouldn't want an animal to freeze to death if there was something you could have done.
5. Your house cat may be sleeping away the winter in the warmest spot in your house, but remember the feral cats that may be living in your neighborhood and help keep them safe. Provide the same sort of safe, dry shelter you would for a dog, and make sure it has a covering on the door so snow doesn't blow in. Leave food and water in a protected spot from the wind.
6. Be especially careful around your car. If you change your antifreeze make sure you don't spill it. The taste is appealing to animals—and fatally toxic. And on that cold winter morning, before you start your car, bang on the hood. Stray cats often take refuge near a car engine for warmth.
7. Winter dryness can wreak havoc on the skin and it can be tough on your pet's coat as well. Watch out for flakiness and dullness, especially in dogs. While supplements and bathing with a gentle, natural, non-detergent shampoo can work wonders, you probably have the perfect nontoxic remedy right in your kitchen already. Give her an oatmeal bath or rub her coat with a bit of olive oil. We're told that bathing your cat too often can exacerbate dry winter skin, but we're guessing that's not an issue in too many feline-loving households!
8. As always, make sure your pet has a high-quality diet—the number one requirement for its good health all year round.
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
By Karen L. Smith-Janssen
Colette Pichon Battle gave a December 2019 TEDWomen Talk on the stark realities of climate change displacement, and people took notice. The video racked up a million views in about two weeks. The attorney, founder, and executive director of the Gulf Coast Center for Law & Policy (GCCLP) advocates for climate justice in communities of color. Confronted with evidence showing how her own South Louisiana coastal home of Bayou Liberty will be lost to flooding in coming years, the 2019 Obama Fellow dedicates herself to helping others still reeling from the impacts of Katrina face the heavy toll that climate change has taken—and will take—on their lives and homelands. Her work focuses on strengthening multiracial coalitions, advocating for federal, state, and local disaster mitigation measures, and redirecting resources toward Black communities across the Gulf South.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Between 2000 and 2013, Earth lost an area of undisturbed ecosystems roughly the size of Mexico.
- Planting Projects, Backyard Habitats Can Re-Create Livable Natural ... ›
- Humans Are Destroying Wildlife at an Unprecedented Rate, New ... ›
- UN Biodiversity Chief: Humans Risk Living in an 'Empty World' With ... ›
- Scientists Warn Worse Pandemics Are on the Way if We Don't ... ›
- Coronavirus Pandemic Linked to Destruction of Wildlife and World's ... ›
By Stuart Braun
"These are not just wildfires, they are climate fires," Jay Inslee, Governor of Washington State, said as he stood amid the charred remains of the town of Malden west of Seattle earlier this month. "This is not an act of God," he added. "This has happened because we have changed the climate of the state of Washington in dramatic ways."
'These Aren't Wildfires'<p>Sam Ricketts, who led climate policy and strategy for Governor Jay Inslee's 2020 presidential campaign, tweeted on September 11 that "These aren't wildfires. These are #climatefires, driven by fossil fuel pollution."</p><p>"The rate and the strength and the devastation wrought by these disasters are fueled by climate change," Ricketts told DW of fires that have burnt well over 5 million acres across California, Oregon, Washington State, and into neighboring Idaho. </p><p>In a two-day period in early September, Ricketts notes that more of Washington State burned than in almost any entire fire season until now, apart from 2015. </p><p>California, meanwhile, was a tinderbox after its hottest summer on record, with temperatures in Death Valley reaching nearly 130 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the U.S. National Weather Service. It has been reported as the hottest temperature ever measured on Earth.</p>
<div id="29ad9" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="8346fe7350e1371d400097cd48bf45a2"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1306969603180879872" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Drought-parched wetlands in South America have been burning for weeks. https://t.co/pjAKdFcKPg #Pantanal https://t.co/ImN2C5vwcp</div> — NASA Earth (@NASA Earth)<a href="https://twitter.com/NASAEarth/statuses/1306969603180879872">1600440810.0</a></blockquote></div><p>As evidenced by Australia's apocalyptic Black Summer of 2019-2020, fires are burning bigger and for longer, with new records set year-on-year. Right now, Brazil's vast and highly biodiverse Pantanal wetlands are suffering from catastrophic fires.</p>
#climatefires Started in Australia<p>Governor Inslee this month invoked the phrase climate fires for arguably the first time in the U.S., according to Ricketts.</p><p>But the term was also used as fires burnt out of control in Australia in late 2019. In the face of a 2000km (more than 1,200 miles) fire front, and government officials and media who <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/trump-climate-change-denial-emissions-environment-germany-fake-heartland-seibt/a-52688933" target="_blank">played down the link to climate change</a>, Greens Party Senator Sarah Hanson-Young and a friend decided that reference to bushfires was inadequate. </p><p>"We both just said, we've got to start calling them climate fires, that's what they are," the Australian Senator told DW.</p><p>Hanson-Young says scientists have been warning for decades that these would be the effects of global heating. "We've been told these kinds of extreme weather events and destruction is what climate change would look like, and it's right here on our doorstep," she said from her home state of South Australia — where by early September fire warnings had already been issued.</p><p>"Calling them climate fires was making it absolutely crystal clear. It is essential that there's no ambiguity," she said </p><p>Having deliberately invoked the term, Hanson-Young soon started to push it on social media via a #climatefires hashtag. </p>
How to Talk About the Urgency of Global Heating<p>The need to use more explicit language when talking about extreme weather events linked to climate change is part of a broader push to express the urgency of global heating. In 2019, activist Greta Thunberg tweeted that the term "climate change" did not reflect the seriousness of the situation. </p><p>"Can we all now please stop saying 'climate change' and instead call it what it is: climate breakdown, climate crisis, climate emergency, ecological breakdown, ecological crisis and ecological emergency?" she wrote. </p><p>"Climate change has for a long time been talked about as something that is a danger in the future," said Hansen-Young. "But the consequences are already here. When people hear the word crisis, they understand that something has to happen, that action has to be taken."</p><p><span></span>Some terms are now used in public policy, with state and national governments, and indeed the EU Parliament, declaring an official climate emergency in the last year. </p>
Words That Reflect the Science<p>But while the West Coast governors all fervently link the fires to an unfolding climate crisis, U.S. President Donald Trump continues to avoid any reference to climate. In a briefing about the fires, he responded to overtures by Wade Crowfoot, California's Natural Resources Secretary, to work with the states on the climate crisis by stating: "It'll start getting cooler. You just watch." Crowfoot replied by saying that scientists disagreed. Trump rejoined with "I don't think science knows, actually." </p><p>It was reminiscent of the anti-science approach to the coronavirus pandemic within the Trump administration, <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/donald-trump-admits-playing-down-coronavirus-risks/a-54874350" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">at least publicly</a>. Fossil fuel companies are also benefiting from his disavowal of climate science, with the Trump administration having <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/opinion-trumps-paris-climate-accord-exit-isnt-really-a-problem/a-51124958" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">pulled out of the Paris Agreement</a> and reopened fossil fuel infrastructure like the Keystone XL pipeline. </p><p>But the science community has responded, with Scientific American magazine endorsing Trump's Democratic presidential challenger Joe Biden, the first presidential endorsement in its 175-year history. </p><p>Hanson-Young says the use of explicit language like climate fires has also been important in Australia due to the climate denialism of politicians and the press, especially in publications owned by Rupert Murdoch. As fires burnt out much of Australia's southeast coast, they were commonly blamed on arson — a tactic also recently used in the U.S.</p>
Climate Rhetoric Could Help Decide Election<p>The language of climate has begun to influence the U.S. presidential election campaign, with Democratic nominee Joe Biden labelling President Trump a "climate arsonist."</p><p>Biden is touting a robust climate plan that includes a 2050 zero emissions target and a return to the Paris Agreement. Though lacking the ambition of The New Green Deal, it has been front and center of his policy platform in recent days, at a time when five hurricanes are battering the U.S. Gulf Coast while smoke blanketing the West Coast spreads all the way to the East. </p><p>People are experiencing the climate crisis in a visceral way and almost universally relate to the language of an emergency, says Ricketts. "They know something is wrong."</p>
- The Vicious Climate-Wildfire Cycle - EcoWatch ›
- How Climate Change Ignites Wildfires From California to South Africa ›
- 31 Dead, 250,000 Evacuated in California Fires as Governor ... ›
World's Richest One Percent Are Producing More Than Double the Carbon Emissions as the Bottom 50 Percent
A new report from Oxfam found that the wealthiest one percent of the world produced a carbon footprint that was more than double that of the bottom 50 percent of the world, The Guardian reported. The study examined 25 years of carbon dioxide emissions and wealth inequality from 1990 to 2015.
If you are taking medication for an underactive thyroid, check your prescription.