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Cold Weather Tips to Keep Your Furry Friend Safe

Alicia Tipcke
Updated: November 12, 2019 06:37 PM

Just like people, animals can get frostbite and hypothermia if left outside too long in the winter. As frigid temperatures hit the Northland, it's important to keep pets safe and protected from dry, cold weather, ice, salt and other chemicals used on roads and sidewalks. 

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Animals react differently to cold weather, for some medical conditions like arthritis may worsen. It's important to monitor pets when outside, perhaps shortening walks when temperatures drop below freezing. 

"Once we get these bitter 40 below wind chills in January, those aren't safe for any pets or people. if you're out there and your hand is freezing without having a glove covered it's not really appropriate for pets to be out there," said Doctor Tirzah Pop of Waters Edge Animal Hospital & Urgent Care.

Long-haired dogs can handle winter weather long, but their coats should be wiped down after coming inside. This will remove any ice, packed snow, or potentially toxic chemicals, like antifreeze, that may be licked off of fur or feet. 

"The worst that I get on his belly is that I just have snow that's impacted because he likes to lay in the snow. Which I guess just adds a little more comfort and some insulation, but usually things don't get stuck and if they do it's just a quick thaw in the house, brush it off. Clean him up with a towel, and he's ready to go," said dog owner Patrick Gillespie. 

Gillespie owns a husky named Rascal that loves winter weather, "if you see a husky or a long haired dog, or ones that are really built for outside, the owner generally knows that they're out and they're not out too long. But if you see a long haired dog is shivering then they need to come in, but usually the rule of thumb if they don't want to come in they're not coming in."

The American Veterinary Medical Association suggests that short-haired dogs wear coats or sweaters when taken for walks. The outfits should be dry since wet sweaters can make your dog colder.  

"A lot of times they'll pull up their paws because it hurts to put them down, so that's a really good way to tell if the dog is cold," said Jamie Parent of A Place for Fido. 

Additionally, check paw pads regularly. Dry air, ice and salt on streets can cause redness or cracks in paw pads. Clipping fur between an animals toes will also reduce the chance of snow and ice clumps. Rubbing petroleum jelly on paws before going for walks, or using booties, are good ways to protect your pet's feet. 

"The importance of the booties is, one, that it kind of keeps their feet a little warmer, and that it also keeps out the salt or a lot of other snow that gets packed up in there," said Gillespie. 

While inside, provide a space for your pet to warm up and feed them well. More energy is burned in cold temperatures, so food and water provide much needed calories and hydration.

 If your furry friend is used to being outside often, make sure to dog or cat proof your home. In your garage, or on your driveway, clean up any antifreeze spills as even small amounts can be deadly for pets. 

"Potential toxin issues are people putting antifreeze in their car this time of year, and getting them winterized, and anti freeze can be really toxic to dogs and cats," said Doctor Pop. 

Lastly, when outside with your pet always avoid ice and come prepared in case of an emergency.

Credits

Alicia Tipcke

Copyright 2019 WDIO-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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