The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Local News

October 31, 2012

Pets need extra care in winter

BECKLEY — With extreme blizzard conditions, it is important to remember that while pets may be covered with fur, they are not equipped to handle prolonged or extreme exposure.

Medical advice website WebMD For Pets gives a rundown on how to keep your pet safe in extreme weather.

Like always, the most important things for pets in extreme weather are shelter, food and lots of water.

Animals need to have access to fresh water both inside and out. Pets who spend time outside should have access to plenty of water, and water bowls should be checked frequently to make sure the water is not frozen.

Pets need more food than normal during extreme cold as they use extra calories to stay warm. Consider increasing your pet’s food a tad during the blustery weather.

And finally, pets that spend any time out-of-doors need access to warm and dry shelter.

If your pets spend time outside, you should check their bedding frequently to make sure it is staying dry; wet bedding can increase the risk of hypothermia and frostbite.

In addition, dogs that wear doggie clothing outside need to be supervised constantly. If coats and sweaters become wet, they can also cause frostbite or hypothermia. Wet clothes should be removed from pets immediately after they come inside.

Pets that wear a coat or sweater outside can get caught on tree limbs and fences if not supervised.

And remember, older pets, kittens and puppies should not be outside in extreme weather. They don’t have the amount of fat or metabolism to stay warm in low temperatures and deep snow.

When walking your pet, remember snow can freeze on their paws and their sensitive pads are prone to frostbite. Try to make bathroom trips outside relatively quickly.

Salt spread on sidewalks can also burn and irritate dogs’ feet. If walking your pets on a salted area, you may need to wipe their feet with warm, damp rags once they come inside to prevent salt burns.

If you let your pets into the yard without a leash, stay near your door to let them in as soon as they are ready.

And with as much snow as southern West Virginia has gotten, you may need to shovel a small area in the yard for your pet to use the bathroom.

The website also notes that for heavy snow, high winds and low temperature, small and/or old animals may need an indoor or porch potty.

Pet parents can use newspapers or potty pads on a covered porch area to keep your pet out of the snow drifts.

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Keep a close eye out for the following symptoms of hypothermia in dogs and cats: violent shivering followed by listlessness, weak pulse, lethargy, problems breathing, rectal temperature below 98 degrees and a lack of appetite.

If you suspect a pet has hypothermia, call you veterinarian immediately.

Wrap your pet in a warm blanket and give your pet a solution comprised of four teaspoons of honey or sugar dissolved in warm water.

You can also put 1 or 2 teaspoons of corn syrup on its gums if your pet is too weak to drink.

— E-mail: splummer@register-herald.com

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