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Cold Weather Dangers for Your Pets: Tips on How to Beat the Cold

Just because your dog and cat wear fur coats does not mean that they can withstand severe cold temperatures without serious consequences. If the temperature is below freezing, precautions must to taken to keep your pets safe during the winter. No pet should be left outdoors for long periods of time in below-freezing weather. Like people, cats and dogs are susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia and should be kept inside. Anytime that your pets are outdoors during cold weather, if they start whining or shivering, seem anxious, slow down or stop moving, seem weak, or start looking for warm places to burrow, get them back inside quickly because they are showing signs of hypothermia. Frostbite is harder to detect and may not be fully recognized until a few days after the damage is done. If you suspect that your pet has hypothermia or frostbite, consult your veterinarian immediately to find out what precautions you need to take.

A pet's tolerance to cold is determined by its type of fur coat, age, body-fat stores, activity level, and overall health. Long-haired dogs tend to be more cold-tolerant, but even they are still at risk in cold weather. Northern breed dogs have a dense under-coat that helps protect them, but all dogs are subject to frostbite to the ears and feet. Short-haired pets, like cats and hound dogs feel the cold faster because they have less under-coat to provide insulation and, thus, less protection from the cold. Short-legged pets may become cold even faster because their bellies and bodies are closer to the snow-covered ground and the cold temperatures. Just as it is for people, falling is a danger for pets when it is icy; arthritic and elderly pets may have more difficulty walking on snow and ice and are especially prone to slipping and falling. Pets with diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, or hormonal imbalances (such as Cushing’s disease) may have a difficult time regulating their body temperature, and may be more susceptible to problems from temperature extremes. Thus, pets with chronic diseases should be allowed outdoors only for short periods of time to keep them comfortable.

If you are unable to keep your dog indoors while you are at work or shopping during cold weather, provide him/her with a warm, solid shelter against wind. The floor of the shelter should be raised a few inches off of the ground to minimize heat loss into the ground, and the bedding should be straw, which is thick, dry, and changed regularly to provide a warm, dry environment. (If possible, it is also a good idea to place straw beneath the shelter.) The door of the shelter should be positioned facing away from prevailing winds. Space heaters, heated pet mats, and heat lamps should be avoided because of the risk of burns or fire. Make certain that the pet has unlimited access to fresh, non-frozen water by using a pet-safe, heated water bowl. Pets drink a lot of water in the winter because the air is very dry.

Cats, including feral cats, frequently seek heat under the hoods of cars and trucks. For this reason, OMHS suggests that drivers of vehicles make a lot of noise, such as loud talking, honking the horn, or striking the side of the vehicle, before starting it up. This noise will give the cats time to exit safely.

While walking your dog during winter, a sudden lameness may be due to an injury or to ice accumulation between his/her toes, so, if you see your dog hop along on three legs for a short distance or sit and hold up a paw, check for ice or snow trapped between the toes. You may be able to reduce the chance of ice accumulation by clipping the hair between your dog’s toes. Check your dog’s paws frequently for signs of cold-weather injury or damage, such as cracked paw pads or bleeding. Or, if your dog will tolerate them, you might want to try snugly-fitting dog-booties.

If there is a frozen pond or a part of the Pine River that is frozen, steer your dog clear of this area. You don’t know if the ice will support your dog’s weight, and, if your dog breaks through the ice, it could be deadly for him or her. And, if you instinctively try to save your dog's life, it could be deadly for you, as well. So err on the side of safety, and avoid the frozen pond, no matter how frozen and inviting it may look.

Following your walk with your dog, wipe or wash the feet, legs, and belly to eliminate de-icing materials used on sidewalks. These chemicals, as well as antifreeze, can be very toxic and the dog may ingest them by licking its paws. Time for a nap after the walk? Just like you, pets prefer comfortable sleeping places and may change their location based on their need for more or less warmth. Give them safe options, but don’t encourage pets to sleep near space heaters (which can tip over) or fireplaces.

If your dog is equipped with a short coat of fur, you may want to find one or more warm and fashionable coats for him or her. If the coat or sweater gets wet, dry them thoroughly before using them again. A wet sweater on a dog just makes him or her colder. There are many colorful and durable coverings for dogs available these days, so your dog can be the talk of the neighborhood in its new sweater or coat!

Winter is a beautiful season in Wisconsin, and OMHS hopes that you and your pets safely enjoy both the beauty and the activities of the season!

Posted in Humane Education, OMHS News - Current/Recent, Pet Health and Safety | Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Hot Weather Dangers for Pets (Urgent, edited Re-Post from 5/26/11)

(This entry was edited and re-posted by the administrators at RCWebsiteDesigns.com due to the current weather conditions and temporary unavailability of staff to post from OMHS. Any comments and/or concerns regarding this particular post should be directed to admin@rcwebsitedesigns.com. Thank you.)

With the current hot temperatures, pet owners must focus on pet safety:

Shade and water are a must. Anytime your pet is outside, make sure he or she has protection from heat and sun (a doghouse does not provide relief from heat) and plenty of fresh, cool water. Cool water is absorbed more quickly than warmed water in a bowl left exposed to sunlight.  Refresh the water bowl with cool water for the safety of the dog.  Heat stroke can be fatal for pets as well as people.

Limit exercise on hot days. Take care when exercising your pet. Adjust intensity and duration of exercise in accordance with the temperature. (Dog breeds with the “smushed” in nose cannot breathe well at all in hot weather. Be extremely careful with exercise or walking these dogs in hot weather.) On very hot days, limit exercise to early morning or evening hours, and be especially careful with pets with white-colored ears who are more susceptible to skin cancer, and short-nosed pets. Asphalt gets very hot and can burn your pet's paws. If the pavement is too hot for you to stand on in your bare feet then it is too hot for your dog's paws. Do not take your dog for a “run” on a leash with you riding your bicycle!

Recognize the signs of heatstroke. In case of an emergency, it's important to be able to identify the symptoms of heat stress caused by exposure to extreme temperatures. When in doubt, contact your veterinarian immediately. Some signs of heatstroke are: heavy panting, glazed eyes, a rapid heartbeat, restlessness, excessive thirst, lethargy, fever, dizziness, lack of coordination, profuse salivation, vomiting, a deep red or purple tongue, and unconsciousness. If the animal shows symptoms of heatstroke, take steps immediately to gradually lower her body temperature and contact your veterinarian as soon as possible.

Heat build up inside a car or truck is dangerous! Have you noticed how hot it can get inside a car on a summer day — far hotter than it is outside? That's because a car acts like a greenhouse, trapping the sun's heat. A study by the Animal Protection Institute showed that even moderately warm temperatures outside can quickly lead to deadly temperatures inside a closed car. On an 82 degree day the temperature inside a truck or car, with the windows “cracked” open, can rise to 102 degrees within 10 minutes. After 30 minutes the temperature can be up to 120 deadly degrees. Having the windows “cracked” open seems to have basically no impact on the heat rising to unbearable temperatures. The Animal Protection Institute study compared an outside temperature of a shaded area with the inside of an automobile in three states: fully closed, with four windows cracked, and with two windows cracked. Inside temperatures were measured with an indoor/outdoor thermometer and an oven thermometer (both readings are given). The “Inside vehicle” readings are with a regular indoor/outdoor thermometer. The “Oven” readings are with an oven thermometer. All temperatures on the next page use the Fahrenheit scale. 4 windows closed on vehicle…

 


Time                                 Outside temp                         Inside vehicle

9 a.m.

82 degrees

109 degrees

 

9:30 a.m.

87

115

 

10 a.m.

91

115

 

10:30 a.m.

94

114

115

11 a.m.

98

114

119

11:30 a.m.

100

117

124

12 noon

101

119

127

  4 windows “cracked” open …


Time                                                  Outside                             Inside vehicle

9:15 a.m.

84 degrees

98 degrees

98 degrees

10 a.m.

88

103

105

10:30 a.m.

90

108

108

11 a.m.

92

113

109

12 noon

95

113

113

1 p.m.

101

114

115

  Two windows “cracked” open…


Time                                               Outside                                       Inside vehicle

8:30 a.m.

72 degrees

72 degrees

72 degrees

9:30 a.m.

80 degrees

95 degrees

95 degrees

12 noon

88 degrees

105 degrees

105 degrees

1:50 p.m.

99 degrees

109 degrees

109 degrees

2:30 p.m.

104 degrees

120 degrees

120 degrees

 

For more information about protecting your pets ( indoor and outdoor pets) contact your veterinarian. Check out these websites for information: newscientist.com mydogiscool.com hsus.org (Humane Society of the United States) aspca.org (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) phoenix.about.com/od/animvet/a/dogsheat.

Don't take your dog shopping when the temperature is above 70 degrees!!! Leave the dog at home when you go to the store or for a shopping trip. When you are at a shopping area parking lot please be alert for dogs, children, or elderly persons left in vehicles on days with temperatures of 75 degrees or more. Even with windows “cracked open” temperatures rise to very dangerous levels within as little as 10 minutes. If a citizen sees this situation where a child, person, or dog is left in a vehicle unattended and widows are closed a phone call to the Sheriff's Department or the City Police is strongly advised. Use your cell phone or go into a store to phone for help or to have a public announcement made… some stores have the equipment to do this. Have the model of the vehicle and the license number ready for getting help.

Please share this hot weather information with your family, friends, and neighbors!

Posted in Archives - All Archives, OMHS News - Current/Recent, Pet Health & Safety - Archive, Pet Health and Safety | Tagged , , , , , , , , ,