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Winter Tips for Pets

When the weather turns on a dime, your pets can be affected too. Some pets get colds, some dry and cracked paw pads, some even infections from salt on the driveway or walkways.

Although your precious pets are covered in fur, many just aren’t equipped to be out in frigid temperatures for prolonged periods. Fur is not the perfect insulator, especially with pets who have short hair. Coats are great for pets as long as you are there to supervise them when they wear them. A pet who wears a coat in the cold rain can become even colder so it is important to monitor them and you may choose to keep them inside as much as possible in warmer, dry conditions.

If you have an iced over driveway, or live in a snowy climate, salt-spread sidewalks can be hazardous to your pets feet as the salt can burn their paw pads. You may choose to put socks and protective pet booties on them for added protection.

For baby pets, it is best that they do not do outside during cold temperatures as they do not have the fat on their bodies yet to protect them properly.

Watch out for antifreeze. This product is extremely toxic and can be deadly to pets. If you choose to use it, we recommend having no pets nearby and quickly and thoroughly washing away all traces of it as soon as possible. If you suspect that your pet has become exposed, you may choose to take it to the vet immediately.

If your pet has sneaked out of the home and been exposed to cold temperatures, here are some ways to check for hypothermia symptoms:

  • violent shivering, followed by listlessness

  • weak pulse

  • lethargy

  • muscle stiffness

  • problems breathing

  • lack of appetite

  • rectal temperature below 98°F

  • coma

  • cardiac arrest

Hypothermia Treatment - we recommend calling your Vet as soon as possible

You may choose to rap your pet in a warm blanket or coat (you can warm blankets and coats in the dryer for a few minutes).

  • Bring your pet into a warm room.

  • Give your pet a solution of four teaspoons honey or sugar dissolved in warm water to drink. You can also put 1-2 teaspoons of corn syrup on the gums if your pet is too weak to drink. This provides an immediate energy boost.

  • Place warm, towel-wrapped water bottles against your pet's abdomen or at her armpits and chest, then wrap her in a blanket. Do not use hair dryers, heating pads, or electric blankets to warm up a hypothermic pet as this may result in burns or cause surface blood vessels to dilate, which compromises circulation to vital organs.

  • Call your veterinarian immediately.

The best way to manage hypothermia is to avoid it. Always provide warm, dry shelter for pets when they're outdoors.

Frostbite Signs in Dogs and Cats

Frostbite happens when a part of your pet's body freezes. For cats, that may involve the paws, tail, or ears; for dogs, the tail, ears, foot pads, or scrotum. Severe winter weather, especially when windy or humid, can lead to frostbite.

Watch for:

  • pale, gray, or blue skin at first

  • red, puffy skin later

  • pain in ears, tail, or paws when touched

  • skin that stays cold

  • shriveled skin

Frostbite Treatment

  • Apply warm (not hot) water for at least 20 minutes to the frostbitten area. Do not use hair dryers, heating pads, or electric blankets to warm up a frostbitten pet as this may cause burns.

  • Handle the affected areas very carefully; don't rub or massage them as you could cause permanent damage.

  • Call your vet immediately.

We hope these tips help you prepare for this season's chilly temperatures that could also affect your beloved pets.

As always, we appreciate any comments below and photos of your pets and you this season!

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