The Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry (LDAF) is urging livestock and pet owners to take precautions to protect their animals ahead of freezing temperatures.
They also inform residents that now is the time to protect plants, pipes and people.
“At times like these, it is important to take precautionary measures and to do it correctly and safely. For example, few people realize the risk antifreeze can pose to our pets. Dogs and cats will drink it if left out because it tastes sweet; however, it is highly toxic to them. If you drain fluid from your tractor in anticipation of inclement weather, be sure to dispose of it properly. These are things we know how to do, but let’s make sure we do them the right way,” said LDAF commissioner Mike Strain.
Here are some cold weather tips for livestock, pet and plant owners:
- Owners should check their livestock and look for signs of stress, disease or injury.
- Pay particular attention to young and older animals as they are more susceptible to problems in freezing conditions.
- Provide plenty of hay, animal feed, energy supplements and water.
- Be sure to check water troughs as they can freeze.
- If possible, provide adequate shelter. Even a windbreak will minimize exposure to cold winds.
- If possible, keep all pets indoors. If that’s not an option, make sure there is dry shelter available and have warm blankets for your pet.
- Provide enough food and water. Watch the water bowls as they can freeze in cold weather.
- Consider a sweater for your short-haired dog.
- Outdoor cats seeking warmth sometimes crawl under the hood of a vehicle. Knock or open the hood of your car so any animals in there trying to stay warm can get out before you fire up that engine. Cats can be injured or even killed when the car is started.
- Move all plants to containers and hanging baskets indoors. If that’s not possible, group them together in a protected area and cover them with plastic.
- Larger plants can be covered with fabric or plastic.
- Water the plants thoroughly if the soil is dry.
- For plants growing in the ground, mulch them with dry materials such as straw and pine leaves.
“Remember that your mulch should be two to four inches thick. Mulching too thickly can cause roots to grow shallow and make them more likely to die during prolonged dry spells. You should also avoid putting mulch around the base of the plant. The mulch should extend a few inches from the base of the plant and be higher at the outer edges to help insulate the plant as well as retain and distribute water,” Strain said.
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