Archive for Wednesday, January 30, 2002

Protect pets from cold

Vets offer tips on keeping pets safe during winter

January 30, 2002

Humans aren't the only creatures needing to take precautions during the winter months.

Vickie Smith, veterinarian at Smith Veterinary Clinic, and Kyle LaRosh, veterinarian at Pleasant Valley Veterinary Clinic, both of Tonganoxie, said pets need to be monitored extensively during winter weather.

Smith said pet owners should make sure that drinking water is available. Animals need plenty to drink during cold weather, as well as during warmer weather.

Smith recommends providing fresh warm drinking water for pets, along with fresh food that doesn't freeze if water spills on it.

"The main thing is to check on them a minimum of twice a day to make sure they're all right," Smith said.

Anti-freeze consumption is another problem during the winter. Pets, she said, should not be allowed to go near anti-freeze.

"That's deadly to cats and dogs," Smith said.

Smith said that even one drop of anti-freeze could endanger a pet. She said people need to make sure anti-freeze on the driveway or anywhere else needs to be cleaned.

Animals that are healthy to begin with will weather cold months better than others. LaRosh said an animal's health needed to be checked going into the winter months. And he said animals should be checked for parasites.

"If an animal is carrying an intestinal worm, that would have a bearing on how they tolerate the weather," he said.

Larger dogs with heavier coats, such as Labradors or chows, do well in the cold weather, as long as they have a dry, well-insulated shelter, LaRosh said.

Dogs such as huskies, which are used to the cold, actually enjoy the winter weather, but they, too, need to be checked on.

He said smaller breeds with thinner coats, though, should be brought into a garage or basement when temperatures become colder.

LaRosh recommended a blanket or padded bedding for insulation, although, as Smith said, dogs can tear them up.

"It kind of depends with their personalities," LaRosh said.

Smith said using straw was a possibility, although straw can carry straw mites. LaRosh didn't recommend straw, as some dogs develop eye problems from the dust in the straw.

Smith and LaRosh see problems with space heaters. Pets can bite through cords, and heat lamps are also not recommended, as they are a fire hazard and pets can burn themselves if the lamps are placed too low.

"An insulated dog house is the best hedge against the cold," Smith said.

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