There is a chill in the air these days that is obvious to everyone, including our animals. Although many animals are well equipped to handle the weather, some are not. The young, old, ill, thin-skinned or haired can struggle with the high winds, wet, and cold temperatures. This week, we will take a brief departure from pet emergencies and discuss the risks of cold and our pets.
Animals, just like people, can become frostbitten and/or hypothermic (internal body temperature becomes too low to survive). A warm, dry shelter is key to preventing hypothermia and frostbite. Although indoors is the best option, having enclosed, dry houses that are off the ground is also helpful. Items like straw and blankets can be used to provide some degree of insulation.
Dehydration is a major risk for our outdoor dwelling animals. Animals require more food and water to do well in cold weather and water sources need to be kept clean and free of ice for animals to take care of themselves. Also, beware of the condition of electric water warmers. Warmers can short circuit and be an electrocution risk.
Winter weather also brings some seasonal toxin risks to our pets. Bringing your outdoor pets in out of the weather to a garage or breezeway is an excellent way to prevent hypothermia and frostbite, but watch out for new potential risks such as anti-freeze, rodent or ant baits, deicing agents and more. Deicing agents come in many forms and may cause vomiting, diarrhea, disorientation, heart arrhythmias and potential death if ingested. Animals typically become ill from licking deicers off their feet and hair coats.
Overall, keep an eye out for animal hazards this winter and really pay attention to the outside temperature, wind, water quality and overall health our your outdoor animals.