How You Can Help Keep Strays Warm This Winter

It’s been an unusually chilly winter for Florida, hasn’t it? With record low temperatures, all you want to do is cuddle with your pet in your nice, warm home. However, let’s take these moments to think of those strays without homes to go to. Even if you’ve already got more than you can handle with your pet or pets at home, there’s still a lot you can do for those strays right outside.

Daily Warm Meals

Putting some extra meat on the animal’s bones is a great way for him to stay insulated and warm these winter nights. Put out some warmed canned food and water throughout the day to provide them with steady meals they can count on. Putting the food out the same times each day also lets the stray know when to expect the food before it gets cold. Set out some dry food as well, since wet food will freeze if left outside for too long.

Both indoor and outdoor cats are prone to dehydration, so leave water out and check it regularly to make sure it hasn’t frozen over. You can purchase a heated food and water dish or solar pet dishes that will keep everything warm while you’re gone throughout the day.

Outdoor Pet Beds

You can purchase heated pet beds that either require an outlet or are self-heating. Self-heating beds contain thermal material inside that reflects the animal’s body heat back to them. Since animals use up so much energy from shivering, this will give strays a nice, comfortable break from the cold. Beds that contain thermostats will warm to the natural temperature for dogs and cats, 102F.

Outdoor Pet House

Shelter is probably the number one resource strays need during the coldest times of the year. You can purchase pet houses on the internet or even build one yourself, easily and inexpensively. There are various tutorials online that show you how.

Don’t worry about getting the biggest bed out there. In fact, the smaller, the better! Pet houses must trap the stray’s body heat in order to insulate the inside. However, if the shelter is too big, that makes its job a lot harder since more outside air will be getting in.

Waterproof and windproof shelters that are elevated from the ground are ideal. You can help further camouflage the house by painting it darker colors and covering it with leaves to blend in with the environment. It’s also a good idea to but the shelter in a wooded area, away from people, neighborhoods, and busy streets.

Things to Avoid

Although well intentioned, there are several things you must be sure to avoid. Blankets, for example, are great resources for keeping us humans warm, but are terrible for strays. If the stray gets the blanket even a little wet, or it’s exposed to rain or snow, it will freeze the stray rather than warm him up.
Using hay to insulate the animal shelter is also ill advised. Straw is ideal, as it repels moisture, while hay soaks it all up. Be sure to clear out any snow surrounding the shelter so that the stray can easily get in and out, but don’t use salt or chemicals that will irritate the his paws.

It may take a bit for a stray to warm up to your efforts, but hang in there. If they aren’t noticing your food, bed, or shelter, try putting it closer to where the strays are known to hang out. Don’t get discouraged and always remember to tap the hood of your car before you leave in the morning!