Pets safety at risk in frigid temperatures

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - The cold weather not only affects you but your pets too. Even if your dog or cat is itching to go outside, the freezing temps and snow are a factor in keeping them safe and healthy.

Erica Kennedy’s Labradoodles love going outside, but it’s important she makes sure they are safe in the wintry weather.

“I leave them in if it’s you know 10, 15 degrees,” Kennedy said. “I also make sure to keep their fur long because they get groomed frequently but in the winter I don’t shave them down because they get cold.”

Dr. Erika First, a vet at Roseland Animal Hospital tells ABC57 the cold temperatures affect breeds differently and it depends on their size, length of their fur and weight.

“If you can’t really tell if your dog should be out for long or not I basically base it on how you feel outside. So if you’re outside and you’re too cold, your dog is probably too cold and shouldn’t spend too much time out there,” Dr. First said.

Laura Cline has two small dogs and one large breed and makes sure each is treated separately.

“I make sure they have some kind of coat on or I only leave them out for a couple minutes to do their business and come straight in,” Cline said.

But the temperatures aren’t the only issue.

“I make sure their paws do not have anything embedded in them,” she said.

“If there is ice on the ground, the pads on their feet can burn just like if we were going to stand on ice, it would burn our feet,” Kennedy said. “We typically don’t go out if there’s ice on the ground.”

Dr. First says ice and salt can be rough on your pup's paws.

“I am seeing a fair number of pets the past couple months come in for irritation of the paws, whether it’s from the salt or sharp pieces of ice,” she said. “Some of them definitely need some extra protection.”

She tells ABC57 booties or petroleum jelly can protect their feet and there are pet-friendly ice-melting options you can use.

When it comes to battling the cold temps, she said they need adequate housing and to stay dry – but a regular blanket is not the way to go.

“We want them to have access to someplace that is dry and warm, so either a door to your garage, a dry hut out of the wind, out of the rain, out of the snow and in there you want some dry bedding, not like a blanket that absorbs moisture but like dry straw,” she said.

With the unpredictable weather, it’s important to be prepared so your pets can be both happy and healthy all year round.

If you see a pet in the cold Dr. First said that you need to evaluate the surroundings as well as look out for icicles built up on their fur or if they are shivering.

If you see that, try and contact the owner right away. If that doesn’t work, contact animal welfare officers.

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