Take care of pets during cold

Published 5:00 pm Saturday, December 31, 2011

When cold weather arrives, humans can protect themselves by simply adding another layer of clothing or turning up the heat. Unfortunately, animals do not have this luxury.

With freezing temperatures moving in Monday and Tuesday, it’s important to take the proper precautions to keep animals safe and warm during these dangerous conditions.

Northside Animal Hospital veterinarian Dr. Mike Wells said outside dogs can survive tough conditions, depending on how heavy their coat is and how well their sleeping area is set up.

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“They do pretty well on the outside if you have a good place for them to get out of the wind and plenty of dry bedding,” he said. “The wind chill can be tough, especially if they get wet.”

Selma Animal Hospital veterinarian Dr. George Wood agreed, but warned that sick animals, puppies and kittens are not well-equipped for cooler temperatures.

Like Wells, Wood said it is important to provide outside animals with adequate housing, and added the dimensions should fit.

“Whatever their housing it needs to be such that it holds their body heat around them,” he said. “You don’t want a small dog in a 6-by-6-by-6 carrier. They need something with bedding in proportion so they can hold their heat.”

When temperatures fall below freezing for one night, Wood said animals can usually survive. Problems arise when temperatures remain low for seveal days.

An outdoor pet’s worst enemy, especially for cats, can be an automobile, Wells said. Warm cars that have just been parked can sometimes be a welcome stop for a cat. Unfortunately, when the driver turns the car on, it can put these pets in danger.

“One thing to be cautious of is cats getting inside an engine to keep warm and getting caught in the fan belt,” he said.

In addition, Wood said those who winterize their vehicles should be cautious of spilled fluids.

“A lot of people will put antifreeze in their cars and spill a little in the driveway,” he said. “It only takes a tablespoon to shut a dog’s kidneys down. It really only takes a few minutes to clean up spills, so that is something I ask people to be aware of.”

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