Keeping Pets Safe During Winter Storm Stella March 14, 2017 | pets / safety
Don’t forget that the snow and bitter cold that sent shivers through you in recent days also impacted your pets. Pets can suffer from frostbite and hypothermia just as humans can, say experts from BluePearl veterinarians in NYC, who treat dogs and cats all winter long for winter-related injuries.
"If it feels cold to you, it’s probably cold to your indoor cat or dog," said Dr. Will Fischbach, a senior clinician in emergency medicine for BluePearl.
So we’ve put together a list of ways to protect pets from hazards such as frostbite, as well as other hazards such as de-icers and highly toxic antifreeze. And these tips will remain important later this week, even in areas where temperatures are expected to rise above freezing. Paws that sink into slush can still feel mighty cold.
- The most common-sense tip is, don’t leave your pets in the cold for too long. Fur coats won’t protect them from prolonged exposure. Monitor your pets and bring them inside if they start to shiver or if you see redness in their tails or ears (which could be frostbite). Once inside, help them get the ice out from between their toes.
- Get your dog a sweater or coat, especially if they are short-haired. We at Friends of Animals love Voyagers K9 Apparel (www.k9apparel.com). They sell everything from winter coats to tummy warmer vests and booties. If you've had a hard time finding dog coats for your mixed breed dog, Voyagers K9 can help. The company makes custom dog coats for dogs of unusual sizes or shapes so any dog can have comfortable dog coats that fit!
- If you spread a de-icer on your driveway or sidewalks, find one that’s pet-friendly, such as Happy Paws (http://greenicemelt.com/products-liquidhappypaws.htm) or Safe Paw https://www.safepaw.com/. Various toxins and even salt can cause problems for pets, who tend to lick the substances off their paws, and even wildlife. Urea, potassium nitrate (KNO3), rock salt, table salt (NaCl), and baking soda are common de-icers that are cheap and do a good job of melting ice. But when the snow melts and rain falls in the spring, the salts and nitrates in them quickly run off the streets and sidewalks where they kill soil life, grass, trees and other plants they come in contact with. Eventually these pollutants run off into the nearest waterway where they kill frogs, fish and other aquatic life. You can also try sand and/or gravel as a natural alternative.
- Don’t leave your pet alone in a car while you go into the store. It’s a bad idea in the heat and it’s a bad idea in the cold.
- Pets sometimes spend more time in garages and basements in winter, so make sure to clear these spaces free of antifreeze. And remember, cats love to crawl into anything warm, including a nice cozy car engine. If Fluffy spends the night in the garage, make sure to locate her before starting the car.
- Winter can make it hard for pets to find their way back home because ice and snow mask familiar scents and paths. Keep pets on leashes so they don’t get confused and lost. Be sure your dogs and cats are wearing identification tags.
- Your dog will never tell you, “Oh, my arthritis acts up in the cold.” And yet, it does. If your pet struggles when getting up and moving around the house, make a trip to the veterinarian. Also, make sure your pets have soft, warm bedding.