Protecting pets as extreme cold temperatures forecasted

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With temperatures expected to be as low as double digits below zero – it’s important that you, and your pets, are prepared.

“If you would not want to be out in this cold weather without any sort of protection, they do not appreciate it either,” said Dr. Laurel Harrison, DVM at Lindquist Veterinary Center in Kirksville.

Extreme cold temperatures mean you – and your pet – need to be careful outdoors.

“At this time of year, no animal should really be left outside for long periods of time unattended,” Dr. Harrison said.

A common misconception about cold weather and pets is that a dog’s fur coat keeps them nice and warm.

“A lot of their fur is not as great as keeping them warm as we would like to think it is like putting on a big warm furry jacket,” explained Dr. Harrison.

If you see your pet shaking or shivering, it means the same thing if a person is shivering, they’re cold.

“Hypothermia, or low body temperature, and frostbite are the two biggest medical concerns we see this time of year,” Dr. Harrison said.

It’s possible an animal can get so cold they’re unable to move. At that point, help is needed right away.

“Call an emergency veterinarian as soon as possible,” Dr. Harrison said. “You don’t want to warm them up too quickly, because you risk shocking the body or burning them if you use hot or very boiled water, or wrapping them up in a heating blanket. That might get too warm you and could potentially scald or burn the outside of the skin.”

Animal owners also should be cautious with their pets around salt and ice melt.

“A lot of those compounds can be toxic to them if ingested, so the biggest thing is whenever you do go on a walk and some salt or deicer may have been placed on the sidewalk, just wipe them off so they’re not sitting there licking on their paws,” Dr. Harrison said.

Temperatures are expected to be so cold in the upcoming weekend that even livestock needs a little extra attention.

“With larger animals, their skin is a little bit thicker, and they’re used to being outside in the cold weather and elements, then say our pets, but you do have to remember that the very extreme temperatures mean the elements can also cause them some harm and damage, especially the young ones, baby calves and foals, so big thing with them, you want to also provide them with shelter some sort of windbreak,” explained Dr. Harrison.

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