DARKE COUNTY — Frigid temperatures can be particularly dangerous for pets, and pet owners need to take measures to keep their pets safe as temperatures drop and heavy snow and ice threaten the Midwest and Northeast.
“Winter weather can be just as dangerous for pets as it can be for people, but there are many ways to prepare our pets and ensure their safety in potentially hazardous weather conditions,” said Dr. Lori Bierbrier, Senior Medical Director, ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals). “Pets can freeze, become disoriented, lost, injured, or even killed from being left outdoors in the cold. Any outdoor animals should be immediately brought and kept inside until the storm and cold temperatures pass.”
The ASPCA recommends that pet owners follow expert advice during severe winter weather to help prevent cold weather dangers from affecting pet health.
First, if it is too cold for you, it is probably too cold for a pet. Keep pets inside where they can stay cozy and safe. Ensure they have a warm place to sleep that is off the floor and away from drafts. If symptoms of frostbite occur, contact your veterinarian immediately.
Second, after each walk, make sure to clean and properly dry a pet’s feet and stomach. Bring a towel on long walks to clean off irritated paws. While on a walk, a pet may step in ice, salt, and chemicals—which can be very painful. Remember to check for cracks in paw pads or redness between the toes. Booties can be effective in covering and protecting paws when out on walks.
Third, never shave a pet down to their skin and try not to bathe them as often during cold spells. Longer coats provide more warmth, like wearing a winter coat. If a pet is long-haired, just trim them to minimize clinging ice balls, salt crystals and de-icing chemicals that can dry out the skin. Bathing too often can remove necessary essential oils and increase the chance of developing dry, flaky skin. When bathing a pet, use moisturizing shampoo and/or rinse recommended by a veterinarian.
Fourth, thoroughly clean up any antifreeze spills. Antifreeze is lethal for both dogs and cats and pet parents should be extra careful when using this chemical. Consider using products that contain propylene glycol rather than ethylene glycol. Additionally, cold weather chemicals like ice melts can be dangerous when ingested, so always be mindful and keep chemicals up and out of paws’ reach. If you suspect your pet has been exposed to any poisonous substances, contact your veterinarian or call ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) at 888-426-4435 immediately.
Fifth, keep dogs on the leash in snow or ice, especially during a snowstorm. Dogs can lose their scent in the snow and easily become lost. Many dogs are lost during the winter season, so make sure your pet always wears an ID tag and consider visiting a veterinarian for a microchip implant.
Finally, during the winter, outdoor cats sometimes seek shelter underneath cars. Bang loudly on the car hood before starting the engine to give cats a chance to escape.
Founded in 1866, the ASPCA is a national leader in the areas of anti-cruelty, community outreach and animal health services. For more information, please visit www.ASPCA.org, and be sure to follow the ASPCA on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.