With temperatures finally dipping near or below freezing in parts of the state over the next week, Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry (LDAF) Commissioner Mike Strain, D.V.M., urges livestock and pet owners to take necessary precautions to protect their animals. This is also the time to protect plants, pipes, and, of course, people.

“During times like these, it is important to take precautionary measures and to do so safely and correctly. For example, not many people realize the risk antifreeze can pose to our pets. Dogs and cats will drink it if it is left out as it tastes sweet; however, it is highly toxic to them. If you drain any of the fluid from your tractor in preparation for the weather, be sure to dispose of it properly. These are things we know how to do, but let’s make sure we are doing them the right way,” said Strain.

Portable electric generator running in the cold winter.
Vitaliy Halenov

Here are some cold weather tips for livestock, pet, and plant owners:

• Owners should check their livestock and look for signs of stress, illness, or injury.

• Pay close attention to the young and older animals as they are more susceptible to problems during frigid conditions.

• Provide plenty of hay, feed, energy supplements, and water.

• Be sure to check water troughs as they can ice over.

• If possible, make adequate shelter available. Even a wind-break will minimize exposure to cold winds. Companion animals

• If possible, keep all companion animals indoors. If this is not an option, make sure there is a dry shelter available and have warm blankets for your pet.

• Provide adequate food and water. Monitor water bowls as they can freeze during cold weather.

• Consider a sweater for your short-haired dog.

• Outdoor cats searching for warmth will sometimes crawl underneath the hood of a vehicle. Bang on or open the hood of your car so any animal in there trying to stay warm can get out before you crank up that engine. Cats can be injured or even killed when the car is started.

• Move all plants in containers and hanging baskets inside. If this is not possible, group them in a protected area and cover them with plastic.

• Larger plants can be covered with fabric or plastic.

• Thoroughly water plants if the soil is dry.

• For plants growing in the ground, mulch them with dry material such as pine straw and leaves.

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