Temperatures in the single digits…….wind chills way below zero……early sunsets. The current cold snap we are having in New England (and much of the eastern US) is serious. Even though our four legged companions have furry coats to protect them, this weather is a challenge for all. Also, it comes at a particularly busy time of year with the holidays in full swing, busy households with family events and pets that still need to go out for exercise and daily functions. Be extra cautious. Frosbite and hypothermia are always a possibility. The following tips are for guidelines only. If they seem too rigorous for your pet, dial them back accordingly.
1. Do not leave dogs or cats outdoors unattendend. If it is too cold for you it is probably too cold for your four legged friends.
2. Do not leave food or water sources outside. They will quickly freeze. Frozen food can result in broken teeth. Solid ice is not a source of water.
3. In very windy conditions it is much more difficult for your pet (and you) to maintain core body temperature. Outerwear, especially fleece, can be very beneficial to preserve body warmth….especially if it is windblock.
4. If you have a dog who spends much of his/her life outside, this should change for the next week or so. These are dangerous conditions. A half an hour outdoors maximum may be OK as long as there is shelter from the wind.
5. As in people, shivering, shaking, behavioral changes can all be indicative of hypothermia. If any of these symptoms occur, take steps immediately to warm your pet and call your vet.
It is winter in New England. We are used to snow, ice and cold. But conditiions like the present are record setting. Be vigilant and wise. We, at the Brockton Animal Hospital, want all of you and your pet companions to have a safe, happy and healthy New Year.