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Freezing temperatures can be dangerous to pets. The veterinary staff at DoveLewis wants to remind you that some dogs and cats aren’t conditioned to weather the severe cold, and a drop in temperatures can cause serious and even fatal health problems in very little time. “If you’re cold, your pet is probably cold too,” says Dr. Mohammad-Zadeh of DoveLewis. “If you need a jacket, chances are your pet needs one as well.”
Here are ten ways you can protect pets this time of year:
1. Know the signs of hypothermia. Early signs of hypothermia include: shivering, lethargy, depression, and decreased physical activity. Signs of more advanced hypothermia include wobbly legs and pale gums. If you suspect your pet is suffering from hypothermia, contact your veterinarian immediately or come to DoveLewis 24-Hour Emergency Animal Hospital at 1945 NW Pettygrove Street in Portland, Oregon.
2. Keep your pets hydrated. An animal’s hydration needs don’t change in cold weather, so it’s important to check your pet’s water supply regularly and make sure it doesn’t freeze.
3. Watch out for chemicals. Some chemicals used in antifreeze and de-icing products can be lethal to your pets. Keep a close eye on your pets when they’re outside, and clean off their feet when they come back inside. That way, they won’t lick their feet and ingest any toxic residue.
4. Stay out of the wind, which causes your pet’s body temperature to drop quickly. The thermometer may say 30 degrees, but with the wind chill factor, the cold is actually significantly colder.
5. Take it inside. If your pets are at home all day in a house with the heat turned off, they should be fine. Just make sure they have a bed and/or a blanket to rest on, because the floor is a lot colder when the temperatures outside dip. If you cannot bring your animal inside, check on him or her regularly and make sure they have a blanket, thick towel or old quilt. Animals who are used to living in warm temperatures aren’t as able to acclimate to a severe drop in temperature.
6. Break out the blankets. Provide your pets with blankets, jackets or other types of protective covering to help them stay warm.
7. Don’t leave dogs in cold cars. Leaving a pet in the car on these cold winter days can be dangerous and even deadly. Small dogs and all short-haired dogs especially need some sort of blanket or coat if they will be in a cold car for any length of time.
8. Avoid puddles and lakes. Letting your pets play in water during the winter can drop their body temperatures severely. If your pet runs through a puddle or falls in a lake, get her out and dry her off immediately. Then wrap her in a blanket and get her indoors as soon as possible.
9. Give special attention to young, sick and elderly animals. Their immune systems can’t handle the weather as well as other pets.
DoveLewis Emergency Animal Hospital, established in 1973 and based in Portland, Ore., is the only nonprofit, 24-hour emergency and intensive care unit in the region. DoveLewis provides donor-funded programs to the community, including one of the United States’ largest volunteer-based animal blood banks, a nationally recognized pet loss support program, a partnership with Guide Dogs for the Blind to bring animal-assisted therapy and education to the community, 24-hour stabilizing care for lost, stray and wild animals and financial assistance for qualifying low-income families and abused animals. Celebrating 40 years of service to the community, DoveLewis has treated over 500,000 animals and has been deemed one of Oregon’s Most Admired Nonprofits by The Portland Business Journal for seven years! For more information, visit dovelewis.org