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As we enjoyed a beautiful Christmas day in the panhandle, we need to start to brace for some colder weather as we welcome the new year.  Here are a few ideas on how to protect your animals in the colder weather.  During this upcoming cold snap, your “critters” will rely on you to survive it.  As you think about how to best protect your outside pets and livestock, remember the three W’s. Water, Wind, and Warmth for them will be vital as we have a few freezing nights.


Speaking of water, that is one of the main things you will need to be concerned with during the weather that is approaching.  Your water will freeze over and will need to be checked on several times during the day.  Add warm, not hot water to the waterer, this will melt any ice that has formed overnight.  If you make it too hot, your animals may burn themselves.


The strong wind is another concern.  The weather advisory is calling the gust of wind that we will experience an arctic blast.  The main thing for your animals is to keep them out of the wind.  This does not mean that you need to bring them inside. Believe me, I’ve tried that, your parents will probably not approve.  Simply putting up a block for the north wind will be enough.  That block can be a sheet of plywood, some tin, or even plastic sheeting.  Apply something to the north end of the cage to help keep the wind blocked.  If their cage has a natural north wind block, like bushes or if it is placed on the south side of another structure, you should be fine.


A light jacket works great for those pets with very short hair.

The next item to consider is to give them some warmth.  This can be accomplished with a red heat bulb in a clamp light.  You should be able to get them at any feed store.  The red bulb should be clamped about three to four feet above the floor of the cage.  This will prevent any accidental burning of the pets or their bedding.  Another option is hay or straw.  Hay or straw will provide warmth for your pets and help with the chill of the ground.  If you use either, be very careful not to place your heat lamp too close, because it could start a fire!   Another item to help with warmth is food.  The actual eating of food will provide warmth to your animals’ bodies.  Make sure they have plenty of food.  Some animals will even tolerate a blanket to coat.  Remember, as the sun comes up and the temperatures reach 50 to 60 degrees during the day, you may want to remove any clothing, so they do not overheat.  They do have on their fur coats already.


The main thing to remember with cold weather is that your animals depend on you.  Get bundled up and head outside and make sure they have clean, warm water and food.  The good news is that we live in Florida, and this is only for a couple of days.

Prudence Caskey, 4-H Extension Agent II
Santa Rosa County Extension
Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences
6263 Dogwood Drive
Milton, FL 32570
(850) 623-3868