How to keep your pets safe in this winter weather

NOW: How to keep your pets safe in this winter weather

BERRIEN COUNTY, Ind. --With all the snow and freezing temperatures, it’s important to take steps to protect your pets because it could be life-threatening for them!

Dr. Kristyn Hunter, a veterinarian at Arrow Pet Clinic in Coloma, provided some tips on how to keep those four-legged animals safe.

When walking your pet, she says make sure they are wearing jackets, boots and a sweater.

Pet owners should use caution when it comes to salt that gets on the roads and sidewalks. According to Dr. Hunter, it can irritate and cause discomfort to their feet. She emphasizes how crucial it is that the animals do not eat snow contaminated with chemicals, salt, or Antifreeze, as doing so could be harmful if ingested.

After coming inside, make sure to dry, clean and warm their feet.

According to Dr. Hunter, the length of time animals should be left outside varies depending on their age, coat, and physical condition. But she says use yourself as a reference.

“Most of the time, you can use yourself as a reference. If you’re outside for just a few minutes and your face and skin are hurting, chances are it’s going to be the same for your pet too. The briefest amount of time outside for them to go potty or do what they need to do and come back in,” Dr. Hunter said.

Dogs can experience frostbite from being outside too long just like people. Checking their skin, toes and tips of their ear or tail can be helpful, she says. If it starts looking blue or purple or feels cold to the touch, she says it needs to be addressed immediately.

Cats can also be impacted if they stay too close to the windows or aren't getting enough warmth where they sleep.

There are people whose dogs and cats usually stay outdoors. But with conditions like this, it can be hard for them to get the appropriate shelter. Keep them inside until the temps warm up, Dr. Hunter says.

“If there’s any way to be able to bring them inside when it gets this cold, even if they’re used to being outside and are acclimated to cooler weather, it still gets to a point where it’s too cold for them to be outside. Finding ways to bring them in when it gets this cold is the best for them,” Dr. Hunter says.

She says if you have any questions or concerns, make sure to call your local veterinarian.

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