Simple steps to keep your pets safe in extreme cold

By  | 

TOLEDO (WTVG) - As we get ready for a winter blast it's important to remember the cold can cause a lot of problems for our pets. There are some simple things you can do to keep them safe when the snow flies and the temperatures drop.

A lot of this is common sense but it's worth repeating because local vets treat animals with hypothermia every year. The bottom line is simple. If it's too cold for you to be outside for long, it's too cold for you pet too, "Really the important thing to remember is how quickly hypothermia can set in."

Dr. Stephen Birchard is a surgeon at MedVet Toledo He says
there are signs to watch for and you need to get medical help, "The main thing to watch for is if they're getting very lethargic They are almost sleepy and really losing their alertness, almost sedated. They will be moving slowly and not responding to the owner or other stimuli properly. "

Treatment can include IV fluids and medication to help prevent the damage the cold can cause. Warming them up does not happen quickly, "The objective is not to rapidly get them back to normal body temperature. It is a slow, gradual process."

Pets that live outside can be acclimated to the cold and some dogs are bred for colder climates. Even with that, vets suggest you try to at least get them into a basement or a garage during extreme conditions, "They need someplace to go to get away from the wind, the ice and freezing rain."

But if they have to be outside, there are important things you need to do. Laura Simmons-Wark is the Community Outreach Coordinator at Lucas County Canine Care and Control,"If you are not able to bring them into the house for whatever reason they need somewhere dry and warm. They need straw in a dog house and access to water. Be actively watching your dog and looking for signs that they are too cold."

And if you see an animal that needs help, Laura says make a call, "If you are concerned about a dog in your neighborhood you can make an anonymous complaint."

Because the cold can affect your pet quickly, experts say don't let your pets outside unsupervised in this weather. Keep an eye on them at all times and get them back inside quickly or keep them on a leash.
Make your walks short.

Watch for ice. Pets can slip and hurt themselves just like we can. Wipe their paws when they come in, salt causes problems. Buy pet-friendly salt for your home. The cold is especially tough on older and younger pets, small dogs and dogs with light coats.

If you're insulating a dog house, do it with straw not blankets. Blankets can get wet and freeze.