Jan
5
2018

With record-setting low temperatures plunging the eastern United States into a deep freeze over the past week, it’s a good time to remind clients how they can keep their pets safe during cold weather. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) offers these tips:

Know the pet’s limits. A pet’s tolerance for cold temperatures varies from pet to pet based on their coat thickness, body fat stores, activity level, and health. Owners should be aware of their pet's tolerance for cold weather, and adjust accordingly. Recommend that they shorten their dog's walks in very cold weather to protect owner and dog from weather-associated health risks.

Tread carefully. Arthritic and elderly pets may have more difficulty walking on snow and ice, and be more prone to slipping and falling. Short-legged pets may become cold faster because their bellies and bodies are more likely to come into contact with snow-covered ground.

Factor in other health problems. Consider the pet’s history. Pets with diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, or hormonal imbalances (such as Cushing's disease) may have a harder time regulating their body temperature, and may be more susceptible to problems from temperature extremes.

Consider the coat. Long-haired or thick-coated dogs tend to be more cold-tolerant, but are still at risk in cold weather. Short-haired pets feel the cold faster because they have less protection,

Pause for paws. Stop and check the dog's paws frequently for signs of cold-weather injury or damage. Look for cracked paw pads or bleeding. During a walk, a sudden lameness may be due to an injury or may be due to ice accumulation between her toes.

Keep it clean. During wintry walks, a dog's feet, legs and belly may pick up deicers, antifreeze, or other potentially toxic chemicals. Owners should wipe down (or wash) their pet's feet, legs and belly when they get back inside to remove these chemicals and reduce the risk that their dog will be poisoned after she licks them off her feet or fur.

Or just stay inside. It's a common belief that dogs and cats are more resistant than people to cold weather because of their fur, but that’s not true. Cats and dogs are susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia and should be kept inside during extreme cold weather.

So until the weather breaks, maybe the best idea is for both owner and pet to snuggle up under a thick blanket, and catch the second season of the Crown.

Photo credit (c) iStock/Creative-Family

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