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No cold comfort for outside NH animals

January 28. 2013 8:03PM

STRATHAM - The super cold we've been suffering through has prompted an unusually high number of calls to the New Hampshire Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals about dogs left outside without shelter.

The NHSPCA said not only is it dangerous to leave pets outside in extreme temperatures without food, water and shelter - exposing them to dehydration, hypothermia, frostbite and even death - but also it is against the law.

It's a misconception that the fur on their backs will insulate dogs and cats, but short haired dogs are particularly at risk from being left outside in extreme temperatures.

Like people, pets need to be indoors when the temperature drops to low extremes.

State law requires domestic animals left outside be provided adequate shelter, which must be of a size to allow the dog to remain clean and dry, to stand up, turn around and lie down, and to retain its body heat,

That last item, a size to let the dog retain its body heat, means leaving a garage door open a foot or so isn't adequate shelter.

The NHSPCA urges pet owners to do more than meet the requirements of state law and keep a dog inside if possible, but if the dog has to spend a lot of time outdoors, the organization has recommendations.

- If the dog spends a lot of time outside, make sure it has a clean, dry, draft-free place to go, with the floor raised up off the ground and shavings or bedding to provide extra warmth and comfort.

- Pets kept outdoors need extra food and water, due to the loss of energy caused by working to stay warm.

- Short haired breeds should have a sweater or coat with a high collar or turtleneck that covers from the base of the tail to the belly.

- Don't leave the dog outside for extended periods, to lie on the snow or on cold asphalt driveways or porches.

If you see a dog or horse outdoors, without shelter at this time of year, the NHSPCA asks that you make a call to the local animal control officer, police department or humane society.

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