By Danza Johnson/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – If it’s cold to you, then it’s cold to your pets.
With temperatures on the decline, the chances of outdoor pets becoming ill or even killed by the elements are on the rise. Every year thousands of pets die because their owners fail to properly shelter them from the cold.
Even though it is designed to keep them warm, a cat or dog’s furry coat can become its worst enemy during the wet and cold winter months.
Dr. Kimberly Kelly at All Animal Hospital said the cold can be a silent killer.
“When an animal’s coat gets wet it can no longer insulate,” said Kelly. “That makes the animal very vulnerable to hypothermia. People need to really pay close attention to their pets when it’s cold and make sure they have adequate shelter.”
Kelly said pets not used to being out in the cold aren’t as acclimated as those that are, which makes them even more vulnerable.
Animals left out in the cold are also more susceptible to dehydration because of frozen water bowls. Kelly said if you are going to leave pets outside make sure they have plenty of food and water.
According to the Humane Society of the United States, only plastic food and watering bowls should be used during the cold because an animal’s tongue can stick to metal.
If somehow you do leave your pet in the cold too long, Kelly said there are a couple of things that will let you know if they are suffering from cold-related injuries.
“If the animal is severely shivering or is lifeless all together you need to get it inside or to the vet,” she explained. “These are the most important signs that let you know the cold weather has gotten the best of them.”
COLD WEATHER PET TIPS
* During the winter, outdoor cats sometimes choose to sleep under the hoods of cars, where it is warmer. Then, when the motor is started, the cat can be injured or killed in the fan belt. To prevent this, bang loudly on the hood of your car and wait a few seconds before starting the engine, to give a cat a chance to escape.
* Never let your dog off the leash on snow or ice, especially during a snowstorm. Dogs frequently lose their scent in snow and ice and easily become lost.
* Thoroughly wipe off your dog’s legs and stomach when she comes in out of the rain, snow or ice. Check her sensitive paw pads, which may bleed from snow or ice encrusted in them.
* If you own a short-haired breed, consider getting a warm coat or sweater for your dog.
* Never leave your dog or cat alone in a car during cold weather.
* If your dog is sensitive to the cold due to age, illness or breed type, take him outdoors only long enough to relieve himself.
* Puppies do not tolerate the cold as well as adult dogs and may be difficult to housebreak during the winter.
* If your dog spends a lot of time engaged in outdoor activities, increase his supply of food, particularly protein, to keep his fur thick and healthy.
* Never shave your dog down to the skin in winter. Leave the coat in a longer style, which provides more warmth.
* Make sure your companion animal has a warm place to sleep far away from all drafts and off the floor, such as in a dog or cat bed or basket with a warm blanket or pillow in it.
* Source: ASPCA