Ice, snow, and winter animal care

Old man winter has landed over the US.  And since the Lord is in control of any and all climate change, I do not pay much attention to the rest of the jibberish regarding that topic.  I love snow, but the ice on the roads is a different story.  I am actually able (for now) to get down off the ridge we live on to go to work.  Most of the roads are covered in ice and snow and the schools have been shut down for two days.  It isn’t any more than an inch of snow, but here in Tennessee it can really make the roads a skating rink.  It can also be challenging taking care of animals in the winter as well.

The animals seem to be taking it all in stride, although the cats and horses enjoy getting in out of the weather at night.  Our dog Cisco (aka Methusula because she is so old) has her own cubby in the garage complete with bed and nightlight.   She spends most of her time in there, only coming out to go outside, eat, check on the animals in the barn, and get the paper.  Yes, at 15 and 1/2 yrs of age, this Rottweiller/German Shephard mix still gets the paper at the end of the drive most mornings.  At her age, exercise is strictly a selective activity.  One day one might think she is going down hill fast.  The next morning, she is out happily walking the fence line. 

All of our animals have fresh water and plenty of food year round.  I would like to encourage everyone to do the same.  Fresh water in winter is just as important as food.  If you don’t have electric heaters to thaw the water, you must take time to chip the ice and replenish the water.  Whether or not you blanket your horse is up to you.  I feel they do better without, unless their health has been compromised or they are aged.  Cats and dogs do quite well out of the elements in a garage, barn, or shed with plenty of straw.  Straw is better than hay (and usually cheaper) because it is hollow inside and insulates much better.  Short haired animals should not be exposed to the extreme cold except to take care of business.  

If your horses have shoes, be watchful that they don’t get balls of ice built up on the bottom of their feet.  You can spray the bottom of the foot and shoe with Pam or put baby oil on them and this will help deter the ice buildup.  However, the oils can also lead to bacterial buidup if their stalls are not kept immaculate.  If horses are kept in, make sure the stalls are kept clean and the ammonia buildup in the air is kept to a minimum.  Fresh air, food, water, and bedding are always a must. 

I truly pray for a prosperous and peaceful New Year for each and every one of you.  If you have questions about animal care, please don’t hesitate to contact your veterinarian for more information.

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