If you provide your pet with outdoor shelter, check the bedding to ensure it is dry and that your pet(s) have plenty of it available to them. Also, ensure that the water is not frozen in their bowl and that the water is clean for them to drink. It would be a good idea, to reduce the number of daily warm water refills, to get an electric bowl to place their water in, to keep it from freezing.
Also, if you will be away (and your pet stays indoors), and leaving your pet for us to care for, it is best to leave the heat on in your home at a reasonable temperature for your pet, and the safety of your home; i.e. this will prevent your waterlines from freezing.
Make sure to care for your dogs’ paws as well this winter. Some dogs won’t put up being fitted with dog boots on their feet. If your dog happens to be that dog-or if you just think dog boots look plain ridiculous, consider dabbing petroleum jelly on their feet to help protect their paws during walks or when they are outdoors. Remember to wipe off the petroleum jelly when you return from those walks or when they come inside. Do your best to protect their paws form getting cut by ice or the salt while out on a walk. Rinse their paws in warm water to remove ice pellets and other ice melting products. Never use hot water, as you can accidentally send the body into shock.
Major Winter Threat to Pets: Hypothermia
Pets have fur coats, but they can suffer from the extremes of winter and develop hypothermia. According to PetMD, “Hypothermia is a medical condition that is characterized by an abnormally low body temperature. It has three phases: mild, moderate, and severe. Mild hypothermia is classified as a body temperature of 90 - 99°F (or 32 - 35°C), moderate hypothermia at 82 - 90°F (28 - 32°C), and severe hypothermia is any temperature less than 82°F (28°C). Hypothermia occurs when an animal’s body is no longer able to maintain normal temperature, causing a depression of the central nervous system (CNS). It may also affect heart and blood flow (cardiovascular), breathing (respiratory), and the immune system. An irregular heartbeat, trouble breathing, and impaired consciousness to the point of coma may result.”
Early signs of hypothermia: strong shivering, pale skin color and lethargy. The causes of hypothermia are long time exposure to the cold, wet fur and skin, submersion in cold water, and shock.
And remember: pets can suffer from frostbite. The first places that frostbite appears are on the tip of the tail, ears, scrotum and foot pads. Pets suffering from frostbite who are not treated by a veterinarian promptly can go into a coma and even die.
Keep Current On Pet First Aid Training
Remember to usher the affected pet immediately into a warm room and wrap them in a warm blanket. If you don’t have access to a warm blanket, wrap a hot water bottle in a towel and place against the pet’s abdomen. Do not place the hot water bottle directly on the pet because you risk burning his skin.
If the pet is conscious, give them warm fluids to drink. Check his body temperature every 10 minutes to be sure he is warming up. Once his body temperature is above 100 degrees, remove the water bottle to avoid overheating. Most importantly, get your pet to a veterinarian as soon as possible for professional medical treatment.
To prevent hypothermia, avoid walking on what appears to be frozen lakes, because they may not be completely frozen and you and your pet may slip into the icy water. Also, avoid exposing your pet to cold temperatures for prolonged periods of time. Young puppies, senior dogs and those with low body fat percentages, recovering from anesthesia and certain medical conditions are most vulnerable to being exposed to cold temperatures.
Winter can be a wonderful season to be out and about walking your dog, if precautions are taken to protect them while outdoors.
Have a wonderful winter, everyone!
By Sarah Zumhofe