In the midst of freezing weather, even animals are prone to
frostbite and dehydration. Although they have fur, exposure to an
unkind snowstorm and frost may well be a threat. Well-fed animals
gain meat that helps them stay insulated through nose-diving
temperatures. Pet animals are usually taken care of; it is the
street animals that need our help. In winters, the crippling cold
can be a matter of life and death for these strays.
How to help stray animals in winter?
Here are a few things we can all easily do to help stray dogs or
1. If you never had any pets or if you are uncomfortable to deal
with any animals, then immediately call animal rescue volunteers
or support groups. They will be well equipped and experienced to
handle different kinds of animals and birds.
2. Whenever you spot a homeless animal, you can intimate the
local rescue organizations and animal shelters. Though the
shelters will need a few days time to come and pick them up, at
least other volunteer groups will be informed so they can make
alternative arrangements in the meantime. Occasionally, it so
happens that the strays turn out to be lost pets, and the local
agency can help reunite them with their families.
3. You can keep a bowl of water and some food in the vicinity
where homeless strays are usually spotted. You can also keep
water and food outside your house. The strays usually have to go
searching for food in harsh weather, so finding food makes them
relieved. It is better to check and replace the food or water
often, in case it gets frozen due to the chill. You can try
keeping the food at regular times so that a stray gets to know
when it can approach.
4. You can make snug beds for them to rest and stay warm using
straws and cardboard boxes. Avoid making beds with blankets,
clothes, towels, or hay because these things can absorb moisture,
turn cold, and freeze. Smaller size beds or pet houses are ideal
as it helps the animal to curl up and stay warm.
5. If you choose to provide refuge to a stray animal inside your
home for a longer period of time then first take it to a shelter
home or a veterinary doctor to get it examined for immunization
and check its temperament, think whether it is feasible to keep
the stray indoors with humans, children or other pet animals. It
would help if you also got it checked for any diseases. One
common advice is to always bang the car hoods before starting the
cars as small strays find warm nooks such as the car engine to
save themselves from the cold. Not all stray animals are ready to
get domesticated immediately. Providing them shelter and food is
the next best option. Be patient, and don't get discouraged until
the animal warms up to your efforts. We cannot help all the
millions of strays, but at least we can try fostering any strays
we come across during these gloomy and chilly winters.
Why is Winter the Best Time to Rescue a Street Animal?
If you identify yourself as an animal lover, one of the most
gracious and thoughtful things you could do this season is –
foster a street animal. At any given time of the year, you will
find many stray dogs and cats in your immediate or next
neighborhood. While these stray dogs and cats usually have
learned how to fend for themselves, the winter season is harsher
for them than others. While many pet-friendly people routinely
feed these strays on the street, the cold and unpredictable
weather conditions that prevail during the December-January time
period keep them indoors at large. Winter is a difficult time for
our pets at home, so you can only imagine what it must be like
for these animals, which have no home to call theirs.
Our indoor pets have the warmth of the fireplace or your cozy
apartment. The stray animals on the street have no such luxury.
The harsh cold and approaching storm is enough to endanger their
lives. Not many street animals survive the harsh times of Winter.
If you are fond of animals, you might like to rescue some of
these strays for the time being. You do not need to adopt them.
Simply fostering them during the cold season will be an extremely
thoughtful gesture. Moreover, if you’ve always played around with
the idea of rescuing a street animal – there is no better time
than Winter. The animals will most appreciate your gesture now.
Animal rescue shelters usually run drives to rescue cats and dogs
off the street during the colder months. However, they can only
rescue a limited number of street animals. Most run out of
capacity to take in any more stray animals when approached. What
do you do in such a situation? If you think you are capable of
caring for this animal, you should bring him/her home. Perhaps,
consider taking them to the vet first if you have young kids in
the house to prevent any accidents.
Little things you can do to
ensure a stray’s life
Even if you are unable to house this rescued dog/cat, you can
prepare a cardboard box for them to snuggle up in. Throw in old
towels or blankets to help them keep warm, and they will be
indebted to you for your kindness. They may not have a home to
call their own, but at least they have you as their temporary
caregiver and a safe space where they can find refuge from the
cold wind and snow. If it is possible, leave out some food and
water for your rescue. A well-fed dog/cat is more resilient
against germs and diseases. Lastly, clothe them in your old
Tshirt or top – animals need protection against the cold too! You
may not be able to rescue every cold pup/kitten out on the
streets, but at least you can bring holiday cheer to a couple.
Every bit of effort counts.