Protecting your pets from the cold

Winter can be a challenging time of year for pets. The cold temperatures along with chemicals and poisons used during this time of year can be very dangerous to pets. Also, arthritic pets can have worsening pain and pets with chronic medical illnesses can be more susceptible to becoming sick when their bodies are stressed by the cold.

The cold temperatures can cause hypothermia and even frostbite in pets. To avoid either of these, you may consider going on shorter walks. For pets that live outside, bring them in or be sure that they have an area where they can be protected from the wind, rain, or snow. Be sure their water is not frozen by changing it daily or getting them a heated water bowl. Also, be sure that your pet avoids frozen ponds or lakes as they could fall through and become trapped. Finally, young animals cannot regulate their body temperature as well as an adult can. So, keep this in mind if you get a young pet for Christmas.

During the winter months, there are several chemicals and poisons in our pet’s environment that are deadly to them. Antifreeze for our vehicles is deadly for pets, so be very careful to avoid spilling any when putting it in your vehicle. Also, vehicle motors are a warm and luring place for small pets, especially cats. Before cranking your vehicle, blow the horn to prevent a pet being hurt, or even worse, killed. Another deadly chemical commonly used during this time of year is rodent poison. Do not put this in reach of your pets as it will kill your pet in the same manner that it kills rodents. Carbon monoxide can also be harmful to your pets, so if you have them in your garage, or any enclosed area, with a gas heater, it is a good idea to have a carbon monoxide detector.

Pets that have arthritis can show worsening signs of pain from the cold weather. If this is noted, take your pet to your local veterinarian for a thorough physical exam and to discuss a treatment protocol. Also, pets that have chronic medical illnesses such as heart problems, diabetes, and hypothyroidism to name a few, can become stressed from the cold and develop other illnesses. If you notice any problems in your pet, see your local veterinarian.

There are a wide array of symptoms that pets can show when they are too cold. Some of the common signs are shivering, whining, anxiousness, and weakness. This is not an exclusive list of symptoms, so if you think your pet has hypothermia or frostbite, see your local veterinarian. Merry Christmas!

Editor’s note: Dr. Brandy Middleton Boykin is a veterinarian with Brandy’s Animal Care Center in Eupora.