As temperatures reach the single digits, one veterinarian in the Ohio Valley has advice about keeping animals–both pets and livestock–safe from the elements.
She says animals can suffer frostbite, hypothermia, even death in temperatures hovering near the zero mark.
It’s time to bring in the dogs–even the heavy-coated, so-called “outdoor dogs.”
‘I think it’s very important, especially if we’re hitting single-digit temperatures and below zero wind chills, we have to be very careful,” said Dr. Jessica Vittek, owner of Community Care Animal Hospital in Follansbee. “Even dogs that are used to being outside should be brought in. Make sure they have a warm, dry place to stay, even if you’re just going to keep them in the garage.”
Dr. Vittek says livestock needs special measures in this weather.
Water needs to be changed several times a day due to freezing.
They need protection from the wind and bedding such as straw.
And indoor pets can become seriously chilled too.
Drafty windows are a bad place for some caged pets such as birds and reptiles.
They need to be moved away from windows and closer to a heat source.
Owners who give their pets a bath need to make sure they’re completely dry.
“I wouldn’t let them outside for a few hours after their bath even if they seem dry,” Dr. Vittek advised. “Their undercoat may still be wet.”
Outside walks need to be brief, because frostbite can set in quickly.
“We see it on the tips of their ears, on their toes, the tips of their tails,” Dr. Vittek said. “It can happen to any size animal. So make sure that in very cold temperatures, you only take your pet outside quickly to use the bathroom.”
And sweaters and coats on pets aren’t just for the “cute factor.”
They’re actually practical.
“It keeps their midsection warm, so they conserve all their heat,” Dr. Vittek explained. “They look good and serve a purpose too!”
If there’s a feral cat outside you’re concerned about, and you know you can’t entice it into the house, you can build a small box with insulation and put it on the porch, where it can at least keep out of the wind.