COLUMBUS, N.C. (WSPA) – Winter can turn bitterly cold at times. And while most of us can stay inside and give our dogs and cats a warm home, livestock owners have to put in extra effort to protect their animals from the frigid conditions.

Dr. Bill hay is a veterinarian at Tryon Equine Hospital in Columbus, and he said horse owners need to pay particular attention to the forecast when it calls for a bitter cold/soggy or snowy combo.

Excessive or long lasting shivering should be a sign for immediate action even though some shivering is normal, just as it is for us. A horse’s coat is thicker and longer in the winter, and the hair acts as an insulator as well as a cover. Some clipped horses for riding or show require blankets or a barn for extra protection from the elements.

Horses need extra food to add metabolic heat to their cold air care, but they also need to drink enough water. If it’s too cold, the horse won’t drink it. Owners are advised to add warm water to troughs and check it frequently to prevent freezing or excessively cold water.

While animals have endured harsh winters without much extra care, our ability to help make them more comfortable in the elements helps the horse as well as the owner’s conscience.