When the weather gets colder, pet health emergencies can become extremely common. This time of year, our emergency room at The COVE often sees patients with frostbite, hypothermia, and ingestion of toxic substances. You can be prepared by following some basic tips to help your furry friend stay active, warm, and safe all season long.
Cold Weather Worries
- Winter can be tough for older pets who have health issues. Pets with diabetes, hormone imbalances, or heart disease might have a hard time regulating their body temperature. Help them stay comfortable by keeping them warm and cozy indoors.
- Watch for signs of hypothermia, like shivering, whining, pale gums, confusion, or lethargy. If your pet shows any of these symptoms, get them somewhere warm and dry immediately, and call your primary care veterinarian right away.
- If your pet has arthritis, cold temperatures can make their symptoms worse. Give them extra attention and care, like a warm, soft place to relax and sleep. Keep them away from icy stairs and sidewalks to avoid slip-and-fall injuries.
- Be aware of any antifreeze leakage or spills. It can be deadly for your pet, and they can’t resist the sweet smell and taste! Keep your pet away from harmful chemicals and clean up spills right away.
- Don’t leave your pet in the car when it’s cold outside. Your car will not stay warm (quite the opposite, it will turn into an icebox), and they could freeze to death.
- If you use space heaters in your home, watch where you put them. Keep them someplace safe where your pet won’t knock them over or get burned.
- Be careful when starting your car in the winter. Cats and wild critters sometimes seek shelter from the cold near the warmth of your engine. Slap the hood of your vehicle and have a look around before getting inside.
Enjoy the Outdoors Safely
- Avoid long walks in extreme cold. If your furry friend is feeling pent up, try playing indoor games for fun and enrichment, like food puzzles, treat treasure hunts, or learning new tricks or commands.
- Keep your pet leashed when you’re walking near any frozen body of water. Otherwise, they could run out onto the ice and accidentally fall through.
- Just like humans, dogs and cats can get frostbite, and it might take a few days for signs to show. Be watchful of your pet’s ear tips, paws, and tail ends, where they are most vulnerable. Consider giving your pet a sweater, jacket, and/or booties when they go outside, and never shave a dog with long hair in wintertime. They need their fur and then some!
- Don’t forget to wash and dry your pet’s paws, legs, and stomach after a walk. You’ll want to clear off the snow and ice with a warm cloth, along with any salt residue or deicing chemicals that might have gotten in between their pads.
Winter Storm Emergencies
Be prepared for extreme weather by stowing a winter emergency kit in your car, especially when traveling with your pet. Include items like blankets, water, and food.
When winter storms hit, they can cause power outages that affect humans and pets alike. Keep your pantry stocked during the winter season with extra pet food, medication, and kitty litter, just in case.