Vet offers cold weather tips for pets

Published 9:27 am Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The temperatures have fallen again. To keep pets from falling with them, Dr. Steve Barron of Troy Animal Clinic has a few tips.

Last night’s low was in the 20s. The forecast calls for nights in the teens, too cold to ignore.

“The most important thing is to make sure they are out of the elements, that wind isn’t on them and rain isn’t on them,” Barron said.

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He prefers that animals be brought indoors, in the home or garage.

Some outdoor animals may have acclimated to this chilling winter. Like horses, the coats of many dogs and cats thicken and adapt to the climate.

Barron still recommends bringing the pets indoors.

“I think, with it getting as cold as it is, … they all need attention,” he said.

Animals run the risk of frostbite in extreme cold. Their ears and other extremities with low circulation are prime targets.

If that is not an option, he said to be sure the animals have a doghouse or some sort of shelter from the elements.

Extra hay, pine straw or blankets would be a useful addition. Barron also recommended replenishing the water several times a day to prevent pets from becoming dehydrated.

Veterinarians have several ways of checking for dehydration. The animal’s eyes may sink in. If the back of its neck is pinched, the skin should not remain standing when it is released. The gums are another indicator. When pressed and released, the color should blanch then quickly return.

“Make sure they have good food,” Barron added. “As long as they are in good health, good food will provide them with the energy needed to stay warm.”