Tails from Ralston Vet

December 30, 2014

How cold is too cold?

Filed under: cold weather in pets,Omaha Veterinary,Veterinary Care — Ralston Vet @ 1:55 pm
Joey is staying nice and warm.

Joey is staying nice and warm.

There is no hard and fast number as to what constitutes weather that is too cold.  Keep in mind that your pet is used to your house temperature.   So if you are not comfortable and have to bundle up, your pet could potentially be in danger.  Keep these tips in mind when the old man winter comes to visit.

The wind chill affects your dog as much as it does you. If you don’t want to be outside, your pet probably doesn’t want to be, either.

Coats please!   Your pets’ fur coat is not all the protection he/she needs.  Comfort comes in some warm winter-wear such as:  sweater, jacket, or booties. Look for coats or sweaters that cover from neck to tail and aren’t restrictive or uncomfortable.

Leave them at Home – Your car turns into a rolling refrigerator – great for keeping your groceries chilled, but terrible for keeping your pet safe.

About cats – Cats are especially susceptible to hazards like frostbite, getting lost, or being exposed to diseases.  If your feline friend never goes outside, remember diseases can get into our home too. All indoor and outdoor cats need to have preventive care every year.

Check the hood – Warm engines in parked cars attract cats and small wildlife.  They can crawl up under the hood.  To avoid injuring them, bang on your car’s hood or blow the horn before starting your engine.

Check the paws – Thoroughly wipe off your dogs legs and stomach when they come in.  They can ingest salt, antifreeze or other potentially dangerous chemicals while licking their paws.  Also check for cold weather injuries such as cracked pads or bleeding toes. Sudden lameness may be due to an injury or may be due to ice accumulation between his/her toes. You may be able to reduce the chance of ice ball accumulation by having the hair between your dog’s toes clipped.

Bo playing in the snow

Bo playing in the snow

Shelter, food and water – Pets should not be kept outside during the cold months. However, if you absolutely must leave them outdoors for a limited amount of time, create a shelter to protect them from the wind and elements. It should be dry, clean, and well-insulated. Straw can work well to trap heat.  Increase the amount of food your pet is getting, they burn more calories keeping warm, however keep your pet at a healthy weight there are health risks associated with extra weight.  Talk to your veterinarian about your pets nutritional needs during cold weather.  Be sure to frequently check the water bowl to be sure they have plenty of fresh water.  Heated water bowls work great to keep water unfrozen.

Stay healthy- Kittens, puppies, and senior pets might be more susceptible to the cold.  Their immune systems can be fragile.

Have a backup plan – Cold weather brings the risks of severe winter weather, blizzards and power outages. Prepare an emergency kit. It should include at least 5 days of your pets food, water and medicine.

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