Winter is in full swing. With the unprecedented cold temperatures and wintry precipitation, many pet sitters have been forced to deal with the new pet-sitting issues inclement weather causes. Even for pet sitters who are accustomed to harsh winters, harsh weather can take a toll on our physical well-being and has been challenging and damaging to the morale of even the most experienced pet-sitting business owners and their staff sitters. Not to mention, icy roads, blizzard conditions and deep snow make it more important than ever for pet sitters to exercise caution to avoid slips and falls. Obviously my pet sitters safety comes first. It’s important for us to plan ahead and talk to our clients in advance about preparations that need to take place for winter weather.
Please update us with information on the feeding routine including a more efficient way to feeding horses/livestock during the winter months, since foraging may no longer be an option. Hay/feed needs to be in an accessible, safe, unobstructed location for our sitters to manage safely and easily. Outdoor pets will require more calories in the winter to generate enough body heat and energy to keep them warm – talk to your veterinarian about your pet's nutritional needs during cold weather.
It is crucial to ensure that sufficient water is available at all times, and in the winter that means providing heated tubs and troughs for all outdoor animals.
Managing hoses all winter is miserable. That hose lying on the ground is going to get so darn cold it won’t take but a few minutes for the water to start to gel up. Yep! I distinctly remember one night during a blizzard, trying to get frozen hoses somewhat coiled so I could get them back up to the barn. I was so ready to just lay down in the driveway and give up. I'd rather die than drag a hose around that is frozen, so that is always the last option for me. The expandable hoses are easier to carry around and store–with low expectation that they’ll survive past spring, but worth it. Please let your sitter know the do's and don'ts of hoses and hose connections at your house during the winter months.
Horses require adequate shelter from both the wind and the rain to maintain their resistance to cold. A three-sided, covered shelter is recommended for horses that are kept outside. It is critical to ensure that any enclosure has adequate ventilation as inadequate ventilation can raise the humidity, increasing the chances of getting chilled.
If your dog or cat is outdoors much of the day for any reason, they must be protected by a dry, draft-free shelter that is large enough to allow them to move comfortably, but small enough to hold in body heat. The floor should be raised a few inches from the ground and covered with cedar shavings or straw. The doorway should be covered with waterproof burlap or heavy plastic.
Pets who spend a lot of time outdoors need more food in the winter because keeping warm depletes energy. Routinely check your pet's water dish to make certain the water is fresh and unfrozen. Use plastic food and water bowls; when the temperature is low, your pet's tongue can stick and freeze to metal. It is crucial to ensure that sufficient water is available at all times, and in the winter that means providing heated tubs and troughs for all outdoor animals.
When is it too cold to walk dogs? “The rule of thumb is ‘if you're cold, your dog is probably freezing.’ A walk to eliminate and stretch your legs is OK. A 45-minute forced march...not
Cold and pets don’t mix well in many cases. A dog’s degree of cold tolerance can vary – just like with a person. Some dogs that are accustomed to cold and have a dense fur coat will do fine, even into the single digits, if they can stay dry and out of the breeze. A little Chihuahua with no fur and no tolerance to the cold won’t. Dogs that are acclimated to cold conditions will do better than those that haven’t been gradually exposed.
All snow & ice removal on client property is the responsibility of the client.
Please make arrangements for someone to clear your driveway and walk ways and any entrances being used by your pets & pet sitter.
If we cannot enter your driveway or walkways safely you will be notified. We will try again to gain safe access at your next scheduled visit. It's important to have a plan in place to ensure we are not spending exorbitant amounts of time in frigid conditions to “dig” our way to clients’ front doors for your pet-sitting visits—and it’s important that pet owners understand their cooperation is vital in ensuring you can properly reach and care for your pets
PLEASE provide shovels, flashlights, and sand or pet safe ice melt at all entries being used by your sitter & pets. This is required for the safety of the sitter and pets.
Please remember garage codes do not always work in in very cold weather & hidden keys may be impossible to retrieve in deep snow or ice. Please be certain Home on the Range Pet Sitting LLC has a key on file for your home to ensure entry.
SURVIVING THE WINTER
In addition to focusing on preparation, personal safety and pets’ safety this time of year, there’s another important quality to help pet sitters survive this harsh winter—patience. On the worst days, when it’s too cold to walk even the most energetic dogs, when you’ve had to shovel your way to a client’s door or have had to change a flat tire as sleeting rain pelted down, remember…Spring is coming! Our commitment to providing pet care in even the harshest conditions sets us apart and we hope our clients are surely grateful for the peace of mind we provide, particularly during seasons like this.
Kelley Richie, Owner