With severely cold weather here and continuing, the Humane Society of Missouri urges all pet owners to exercise the utmost caution when exposing pets to the cold. They rely on you to help stay warm, and Animal Medical Center of Mid-America director Dr. Kelly Ryan tells KZIM-KSIM that you should bring them indoors if you can. Ryan says to have a safe, draft free dog house, and the opening should face south with a sturdy, flexible covering to prevent icy winds from entering. Line the floors of the shelter with straw, not hay. Towels and blankets can become damp or freeze, making the space colder. Be sure to limit time outdoors and be mindful of frostbite on ears, tail and paws. Ryan says as a general rule: If it’s too cold for you, it’s too cold for your pets.
BEWARE OF ANTIFREEZE AND ROCK SALT: Antifreeze often collects on driveways and roadways. Although it smells and tastes sweet to your pet, it is lethally poisonous. If you suspect your pet has ingested antifreeze, contact your veterinarian immediately! Deicing products like rock salt can irritate footpads. Be sure to rinse and dry your pet's feet after being outside. Pet stores often carry pet-safe ice melts that do the job and won’t harm your pets.
DRY OFF WET PETS: A wet pet is a cold pet. Towel or blow-dry your pet if he gets wet from rain or snow. Also, it is important to clean and dry paws to prevent tiny cuts and cracked pads.
PROVIDE PLENTY OF FOOD AND WATER: It takes more energy in the winter to properly regulate body temperature, so your pet needs additional calories if he spends a lot of time playing or working outdoors. Your pet is just as likely to get dehydrated in the winter as in the summer, so be sure to provide plenty of fresh water. Snow is not a substitute for water. Refill outside bowls often to prevent freezing.
CAREFULLY KEEP PETS WARM INSIDE: Keep your pets warm, dry and away from drafts while inside. Space heaters and other supplemental heat sources can burn your pet. Keep portable heaters out of reach and make sure all fireplaces have adequate screening. And, of course, never leave your pet alone with an unattended fire.
GROOM REGULARLY: Your pet needs a well-groomed coat to keep him properly insulated. Short- or coarse-haired dogs might get extra cold so consider a sweater or a coat. Long-haired dogs should have their paw hair trimmed to ease in cleaning and snow removal.
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