The freezing temperatures are setting in and that means you'll need extra protection from the cold, but don't forget your best friends. Do not be fooled by their furry coats, pets need extra care during the winter months as well.
Pets with short fur and those that are lower to the ground will likely get cold faster than their taller, thicker coated friends, but it's important to note that all pets are at risk of frost bite or hypothermia if they're left out in the cold too long.
VCA Companion Care Animal Hospital Associate Veterinarian, Karen Swenson said there are some ways to tell if your pet is starting to get hypothermic. "Your pet may not be as mentally alert as they were. They might be breathing slowly, they might be breathing more shallow. There's certainly some medical things that may not be apparent by just looking at them and people always wonder about shivering. Once that core body temperature below like, 87-88 (degrees), they're not going to be shivering."
If your pets get too cold, Swenson said give them warm water and use blankets, but do not use heated water bottles or any other hot devices. Too much direct heat will produce burns. If your pet reaches hypothermic levels as she described, Swenson said bring your pet in to a veterinary clinic right away.
Shelter Operations Coordinator and Officer Lisa Held of the Marathon County Humane Society said if you do need to keep your pet outside in a shelter, make sure it's well insulated. She said straw and not blankets is the best way to insulate because blankets can freeze. If you can, Held said the best thing you can do is to simply limit the time your pet is outside and shorten walks to prevent those paws from going cold.
"Our rule of thumb is, if it's too cold for you, it's too cold for them," said Held. "So if you have to let your pet outside, stand out there with them, if it's too cold for you, they're feeling it too. Then if you're out there too with them, you can see if they're holding up their paws, if they're not really wanting to be active anymore because they are too cold."
Pet owners also need to be aware of other hazards the cold weather brings. Swenson said the salt and chemicals on sidewalks can be harmful to your pet if injested. She suggested wiping your pet's paws off after a walk to not only eliminate chemicals, but to also help with keeping them warm. She added keeping pets off ice will help with keeping their pads from freezing and cracking as well as protect them from falls that could critically injure them.
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