Cold Weather Tips

Colder weather wanders in, and everyone bundles up on the couch in the beams of their christmas lights. With the danger of cold weather rolling in, I’m here to offer you some tips and tricks!
Being in and out constantly raises the chances of dry skin. Prevent this by removing impacted snow and ice from the paw pads and using a humidifier in the house.

Avoid shaving your pet down. The undercoat is the downy, fluffy fur from your pet. It is designed to insulate and keep your pet warm. The top coat is the dense, long fur. This layer of fur wicks away moisture and keeps your pet dry.
• Use a jacket in short haired pets in order for them to better regulate body temperature.
Keep in mind, antifreeze is lethal to dogs and cats. Please clean up underneath your car or keep pets away from any leaks.

As a rule of thumb, if it is too cold for you, it is too cold for your pets.
• Young, old and sick pets are not cold tolerant. Excessive exposure should be avoided.
Cold weather can exasperate health conditions like arthritis, pain from lyme disease, and more.

Avoid ice! You’re treading in dangerous territory for both yourself and your pet. Torn ACL’s, falling in a body of water, etc.

Lastly, you should check under your car and in your car for feral cats and wildlife that may have found their way to the warm abyss that is your car.

PSA: Having a warm place to rest is essential and shelter is required by law.
• Some cities in Ohio are adopting laws that restrict pets being tied outside for more than 2 hours. I think this is beneficial because it encourages people to keep their pets inside as pets versus just animals that live outside their house.
• Pintrest has some good ideas on how to make houses for outdoor cats. If you take a tupperware storage box, cut out a small “door,” then fill it with a foam cooler and matching “door” you will have a safe, warm, house for your outdoor cats.

Additionally I wanted to take some time to discuss hypothermia. Hypo means lows, and thermia indicates temperature. Low temperatures vary from 82-90 degrees Fahrenheit.

Mild Symptoms- Weak, shivering, and lack of mental alertness
Moderate Symptoms- Low blood pressure, shallow breathing, muscle stiffness, lack of mental alertness, weak, shivering.
Severe Symptoms- Fixed & dilated pupils, inaudible heart rate, difficulty breathing, and
coma.
Frostbite
Paws, ears and tails are the most easily affected areas.
Discolored, gray or pale/blue colored skin may be affected by frostbite.
Skin that is cold, brittle to touch, is severely affected by frostbite and will not likely be saved.
Blisters, ulcers and pain can happen at the site.
If the skin is turning black or dying, it will not be able to be saved. This is necrotic tissue.

What do you do if you pet is experiencing cold weather exhaustion and frostbite? Wrap your pet in warm blankets and place a hot water bottle on their stomach, covered in a blanket. This is the first step. Try to keep your pet still, movement releases heat. There will be a drop in temperature at first, this is due to the cold blood mingling with the skin temperature. Take a rectal temperature every 10 minutes until it is 100 degrees Fahrenheit. At this time, remove the warm water bottle and leave pet under warm blankets. Lastly, call your veterinarian. It is essential to ensure that the internal organs weren’t effected by the cold weather exposure. This will mean running blood work, a physical exam, and a urinalysis.

Prevention is always key. Cut out the cold walks through the winter months. Instead take short walks more frequently. Allow your pet to come inside, shelter is so important. Jackets and booties are good options for sensitive pets.

Thanks for reading!
Your Friendly Neighborhood Vet Tech

Referenced:

“Cold Weather Pet Safety Tips.” ASPCA, www.aspca.org/.

“Hypothermia: Keep Your Dog Safe in the Cold.” Cesar’s Way, www.cesarsway.com/.

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