Cold weather can pose many dangers to pets

Just like humans, cats and dogs are susceptible to extreme weather conditions. 

There are some simple precautions you can take to keep them healthy. 

Julie Boyd and her dog Bootsie are traveling through West Virginia.

Boyd said when temperatures crawled below zero she put a coat on Bootsie. Boyd has learned to notice when Bootsie is getting too cold. 

"Especially her paws, she'll lift them up when she is getting too cold," she explained. 

Veterinarians like Jennifer Snider at Kanawha City Veterinary Hospital say the extreme cold can cause hypothermia and frostbite for pets just like people.

"I usually don't get too concerned about my dogs and cats until it gets to the extreme cold like we've been having," Snider said. 

One of the biggest concerns can be irritation to your pet's paws. 

"What you are mainly looking at is the area between the foot pads if they have ice balls or salt in between their toes it is going to be very irritating," Snider explained. 

Some dogs struggle more than others in the cold. It mostly depends on the thickness of their coat and their breed. 

"There is only that much of a covering between the fur and the skin," Snider said noting her Beagle's light coat. "This is adequate for mild to moderate weather but definitely not the severe weather that we have right now." 

There are some signs to look for that could be a red flag that your pet is in distress. 

"Shivering is going to be one of the first signs,"Shivering is telling you that their body temperature is starting to drop and they are having to shiver to stay warm. If you have a dog that is shivering outside then it needs to come in. The problem is when they stop shivering. If they stop shivering then it becomes critical." 

Some other tips:
Never shave your dog down to the skin in winter 
If your dog is short-haired, consider getting him a coat or sweater. 
Bathe your pets as little as possible during cold spells. Excessive bathing can cause them to develop dry skin.  
Since pets burn extra energy by trying to stay warm during the winter they need more calories. Consider feeding your pet a little bit more during the cold weather. 
Dehydration can be just as big of a threat as the cold. Pets have to have access to water that is not frozen. Dogs and cats cannot get enough water by licking the ice. 
Veterinarians also say when you go out to start your car in the morning you should tap on your hood a few times because cats like to crawl up into the engine to keep warm overnight.

Another danger to your pets this time of year is antifreeze. For more information on antifreeze poisoning click HERE


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