Keeping You and Your Pets Safe Without Power in Winter
The extreme weather is as moody as a wild cat these days. Let’s face it – no one really knows what to expect when winter comes a calling.
When a cold front moves in, it can easily cause icy roads, long delays, frozen power lines, and a lack of heat in a home.
That means dangerous conditions for our pets, as well ourselves. Particularly since they are often home alone during these outages.
You already know the basics:
- Keep your pets indoors
- Make sure any outdoor animals (horses, cattle, wild birds, and even feral cats) have access to extra calories
- Provide warm blankets
- Make sure all livestock and feral cats have access to a covered shelter
But, once you get past the basics, there are a few other things to consider, particularly when it comes to birds, aquariums, reptiles and stray animals or livestock.
Preparing for Power Loss
It’s tempting to light candles, stoke a fire, or turn on that heater. But, you have to remember that animals are highly sensitive to fumes and it’s not all that safe for you either.
Here are some better ways to keep you and your pets safe during the coming days, because chances are good you’re going to all be stuck indoors without power.
Candles and pets are a dangerous combination, so it’s best to avoid them altogether. There are plenty of other ways to make your way around the house. Instead of candles, consider Battery Powered Lanterns and headlights that both you and your pets can wear (our favorite is the PupLight due to it’s incredible light and long battery life).
A Gas Powered Portable Generator is the optimal solution to any power outage but not everyone can afford it. Either work with a neighbor to discuss power-sharing opportunities or consider a smaller generator that will assist you in powering things such as a fish tank filter and a few lights.
Remember to always keep at least a week’s worth of supplies on hand for you and your pets. You and your pets will all need extra calories to stay warm. This is not the time to switch their foods. For help on storing foods, see this helpful article.
All of your pets will need more water on cold days, particularly if your power goes out. Colder weather means more calories are expended to stay warm.
Learn how much water your pets need to drink each day and make sure they are drinking it. You may need to add a little treat (like making a bone broth) to the water to coax them into drinking enough. Be sure you leave out extra water dishes for everyone.
Be sure you know how to keep everyone entertained through those long days!
Here are some indoor games that are simple, fun and will keep your pets engaged and sleepy enough afterwards to stay down all night.
Special Care for the Elderly and Infirm Pets
Senior pets are going to need some extra attention. If your pets are on medication for pain, keep a close eye on them as the Rx can slow their metabolism, making it extra hard to stay warm.
You’ll want to be cautious walking them on that ice as well, particularly if they already have painful hips or joints.
We have some great suggestions for durable coats, as well as specialty jackets that will help keep your pets calm and warm during those long days.
Extra Care for Reptiles, Birds and Aquariums
Remember that fish and reptiles are very susceptible to the cold, and a power outage can create a serious problem in only hours. Consider placing Hot Hands Hand Warmers under aquariums, but be sure they aren’t in a place that your pets can reach.
- Fish: Your most immediate need for your fish will be to handle the gas exchange properly. Consider a Battery-Operated Air Pump that runs in the morning and evening to help keep aquariums aerated. If you didn’t have time to buy a battery operated pump, you’ll need to do it on your own.
For larger tanks (100+ gallons) you can use a bucket. Punch several holes in the bottom of the bucket, scoop water from aquarium, then allow it to filter through the holes into the tank. This should be done at least once a day to help agitate the water and assist the exchange.
- Exotics: Many exotic pets have very high water requirements due to their small sizes and fast metabolism. It’s important to keep them hydrated. Your exotics in particular may require much more food than normal to give them the energy to stay warm.
- Reptiles: Should you lose power, consider insulating your aquarium by wrapping a solar blanket around it. Most reptiles can safely handle lower temps for a day or two, but it’s not good for them and you will see many health problems occur as a result. Do your best to keep them as close to their normal body temperature as possible.
- Birds: Once the air temperature drops to the 50’s, your bird may “fluff” to stay warm, which often results in them not eating. This is because the birds are attempting to trap warm air between their feathers and bodies.
- Wrap a warm blanket around your bird’s cages.
- Tempt your bird to eat by offering tasty treats. This is not the time to worry about them picking up weight. Give them their favorite treats and encourage them to eat.
Sheltering in Place or Evacuation
Every situation is different. But, if you can shelter in place with your pets, that is often the best option. Hotels and boarding facilities can be very difficult to find, and they often give first priority to existing clients or people without pets.
If you can shelter in place, here are some tips for making it less painful:
- Keep you and your pets entertained with these fun suggestions for dogs and cats! Make the snowbound experience a fun time for everyone.
- Keep extra water bowls out for your pet as they should be encouraged to drink.
- Know the signs of frostbite and hypothermia.
- Remember the windchill! Here’s a guide to walking your pets in the snow.
If you haven’t already bugged out to say, Arizona, then you should stay off the roads as much as possible.
No matter what happens, it’s important to stay together.
Don’t leave your pets to fend for themselves!
- Pet-friendly hotels: There are thousands of hotels that allow pets, many of which can be found online. Print out a list of pet-friendly hotels, boarding facilities, and veterinary facilities. If your power is out, you will not have internet access to look up these groups.Call them ahead of time and make sure you have the paperwork they require stored in your bug-out bag.
- Keep a bug-out bag for your pets: Keep copies of your paperwork for pets in the bag so you don’t have to worry about finding them in case you need to leave. All reputable boarding facilities will require this paperwork.
- Friends and relatives: If you cannot locate or afford a pet friendly hotel or resort, ask friends or relatives with power to house your pets for a few days. If you have horses, you may want to consider reserving a place with the Staller app.
- Boarding Facilities: There hundreds of boarding facilities and private residences who allow pets to board by the day or for longer periods of time. Google “boarding” or “Dog daycare” for the results closest to you.
Baby, it’s cold outside. Take care of you and your pets.