What darker and colder weather can mean for pets and wild animals
Winter will be half over in early February, and springtime isn’t until late March. That means that animals of all kinds will continue bracing themselves against the harsh weather and dark lightening for a few more months. They will be doing food exhibitions and seeking shelter security. Long story short—with winter weather, there are safety protocols to watch out for regarding your pets and the wild animals around you.
What Do You Need to Ask Yourself?
Here at Mosaic Insurance Alliance, we love sharing life tips! (As you can tell by our Pinterest boards.) Spreading life hacks helps spread safety—and we are all for that! Plus, the more you know about what life can throw at you, the less rides you tend to take on the stress train. Who wouldn’t want that?
When it comes to animal safety for the winter months, the main questions to ask yourself are:
1. How do I keep my animals safe?
2. What wild animals could I encounter in my area?
3. How do you get rid of certain wild animals?
4. What are some steps you can take to avoid attracting pests?
What Do You Need to Know?
Since there are two types of people out there—ones who like a handy guide that highlights the basics, and ones who like a little more information and links to where they can get additional help—we have provided both for you to choose from! (Score!)
For those of you who want hard and fast information, we summarized the tips below and stuck them in a handy PDF for you! Click on the picture, or here, to read more of the handout. You can print the PDF and/or share it with friends via email, Facebook Messenger, text, and more. You can also pin it from our winter safety Pinterest board for safekeeping. If you would like expanded highlights of the PDF and links to resources, read on.
Darkness and critters don’t mix well.
1. Be extra cautious in rural areas that are likely to have animals in the road, such as campgrounds, neighborhoods that are more isolated, farmland, and mountain ranges. Areas that tend to have animals in roads are places that are quiet and less populated, have darker lighting, and have plenty of grass, fruits, and vegetables.
2. Pay attention to road signs—are there any animal crossing ones? Areas that are common to experience certain types of animals will put up animal crossing signs, such as deer-crossing.
3. Keep in mind that animals—wild and pets—like to roam in the dark.
4. With less daytime hours, be extra alert for animals crossing the road in the early morning and at dusk.
- Common animals that like to cross roads: deer, raccoons, possums, dogs, cats, ducks, rabbits, and squirrels.
- Deer can cause a horrific car accident if they are hit (or you swerve to avoid them). It is not uncommon for cars to be totaled because deer antlers went through the car grill, or the driver gets spooked and hits something else when avoiding the deer.
- Deer also tend to walk in packs—be alert for more if you see one.
5. If you see an animal on the road, Defensive Driving recommends that you…
- Remain in your lane and slow down as quickly as possible. Keep in mind the conditions of the road and brake for said conditions (i.e., do not slam on your brakes in the ice).
- Avoid swerving even though it is your gut reaction to do so. Only swerve to avoid an animal if you are driving slowly on an empty road with plenty of space.
- If you do have room to swerve and can do so safely, move toward the right side/outer edge of the road so that you do not cross into the other lane. Be cautious of ditches and other things like mailboxes and light poles.
- Animals instinctively will continue in the direction that they were going when spooked. So, instead of pulling away from danger, they just move faster. Therefore, it is recommended that if it is safe to do so, slow down and move slightly in the direction that the animal was coming from. This will allow the animal more time to get out of the way.
6. Keep a very watchful eye on your pets.
- Supervise dogs when you let them outside to use the restroom, even in your own fenced yard. (Porchlights and flashlights are helpful!)
- Always use a leash when your animal is outside of your house or fenced yard.
- Using a leash in your own yard might be a good idea, especially if your dog gets excited easily and/or has some obedience problems when you call them to come inside.
- A yellow vest for your dog can help not only you spot them, but others. The bright reflective colors will help you find them if they get away from you. A vest also makes them easier to see so that they are less likely to get hit by a car.
- Keep your cats indoors if possible. If they are determined to be outside sometimes, try to get them to come inside before dusk and remain inside until it is light out again.
- If you have an outdoor cat that never wants to come inside, try to create a sanctuary for it like an outdoor hut so that they do not seek shelter elsewhere.
- Outdoor cats might change their mind, so each cold season, try multiple times to convince them to come inside. Sometimes cats will be more willing to come inside during the colder seasons than hotter times of the year. A few times a week, see if you can persuade them. (It doesn’t hurt to try!)
If you lose your animal…
1. Place bedding and other items that smell like them outside your doors. Their scent can help them find their way home. Toys can also work well for this.
2. Ask neighbors if they have seen them.
3. Call nearby animal shelters.
4. Put up paper missing signs in the area with pictures. (Laminate them during rainy weather! A Ziplock can work nicely.)
5. Post on social media community pages (Facebook and other platforms).
- Finding social media pages to post: Look for a few that are in your area using the search feature to search things like “lost dogs in Snohomish County” and “Snohomish County community page.” For example, Snohomish County has these popular pages where you can post about lost animals: Lost Dogs of Snohomish County, Marysville Crime and Community, and SCCC Arlington Crime and Community. Nextdoor is also a great platform for posting lost and found pets.
- When posting about your lost pet on social media, keep in mind that you want to share at least 1 good recent photo of your animal, when they escaped (date and time), the location of where they were last seen, their breed and age, any important health issues, some personality information, and how people can contact you for additional information. We recommend that you do not share your personal contact information on public posts or in the comments. Sharing it in 1-on-1 private messages is a lot safer. (Please be cautious if you set up a meeting with someone who claims to have your animal.)
6. Try to get your pets microchipped the moment that you own them. Their chips contain information like their name, your name, your address, and your contact information. If your phone number or address ever changes, make sure you update their chip information so that it is correct if they get lost and end up getting scanned at an animal shelter. Also include collars with tags so that if someone finds them, they can contact you immediately.
When feeding your pets…
1. Try to feed them inside only. Leaving their food outside will most likely attract scavengers.
2. Having strict feeding schedules helps remind your pet that you have enough food for them and that they do not need to wander off in search of it elsewhere.
3. Meal feeding also helps if your animal is outdoors only. Meal feeding helps ensure that there is not food sitting waiting for others to come and eat it.
Animals hide in your car for warmth.
1. A mouse or rat crawling out from under your hood and onto your windshield can spook you and cause a car accident.
2. Cats also like to take shelter on engine blocks and in wheel wells. Them being inside your car when it starts can kill them (poor critters!) and damage your car.
3. Avoid letting your car sit unused for long lengths of time to fend off rodents, birds, racoons, and other animals.
4. Before starting your car, check underneath it and lift/knock on your hood.
5. Honking the horn can also help wake up any animals nearby.
6. Not immediately starting your car can give animals the time they need to move.
7. Putting deterrents around your car can help. Be extremely cautious with poison and metal traps, especially if you or your neighbors have animals or kids. Natural deterrents like mint, cinnamon, and vinegar are safer.
Your car is not the only sanctuary.
1. Mice, rats, raccoons, possums, strays, and the like also invade spaces like garages, sheds, attics, porches, and basements.
2. In addition to seeking a home, they go through great lengths to look for food more this time of year since it is harder to find, and they need nutrition to keep warm.
3. Try keeping food in just your kitchen. If you buy in bulk and use places like your garage for extra storage, plastic tote boxes with sealed lids can really come in handy.
Do a maintenance check.
1. Does your fence need repairs?
- Are there boards missing or broken that could let unwanted animals in (or your pets out)?
- Is the latch/lock faulty?
- Does the entire thing need replacing because of loose posts, wood rot, and/or something else?
2. How are those garage windows looking? What about your crawl space door on the outside of your house—is it secure?
3. How’s the insulation in your crawl space doing? What about the insulation in your attic, garage, shed, etc.?
4. Take a perimeter check of your home. Are there any holes or cracks? Are any pipes leaking? As Safe Pro Pest Control mentions, are there any gaps in the brick mortar that could let insects or mice in? Any vents or chimneys that should be covered if they are not in use?
5. BioAdvanced recommends that you…
- Clean gutters and downspouts
- Eliminate outside debris, including compost piles and fallen leaves
- Make sure your exterior lights are functioning
- Replace broken/missing window screens after a storm
- Store firewood outdoors and away from the house
- Have great seals for openings like entry doors and crawl spaces
Being tidy works wonders.
Animals are less likely to put up shop in an area that is frequented often, light, out in the open, decluttered, and clean.
1. Have regular garbage pickup
2. Frequent all areas of your property regularly
3. Clean weekly
4. Use plastic tote boxes for storage instead of cardboard to help keep rodents away
5. Be mindful on how you setup your compost
6. Sweep the kitchen regularly to pick up any food pieces lying around.
7. Looking for some more healthy home tips? Check these out!
8. Also, here are some more cleaning tips for pet owners.
Do You Have Some Safety Topics That Would Make Great Pins?
As we mentioned, safety is one of our top priorities here at Mosaic Insurance. If you would like us to go over some different helpful tips on other safety topics that you feel would be beneficial to you and others, let us know! Contact information for our Marketing Manager, Meagan Baron, is here. You can send her your ideas in email! We can then take those ideas, create some more blogs, and add them to our Pinterest—spreading safety one pin at a time!