Harrisburg, PA: The current President of the Pennsylvania Veterinary Medical Association (PVMA), Bryan Langlois, DVM, wants to remind all animal owners that the extreme cold weather in over the next few days can present life-threatening dangers to their pets and farm animals. Owners are urged to take the proper precautions to prevent excessive exposure of their animals to this cold.
“While some animals are bred to handle the cold better than others, the extreme cold snap coming presents dangers to all animals,” says Dr. Langlois. Animal owners should keep these tips in mind:
- Limiting time outdoors and walks for dogs to 10-15 minutes. Shorter coated breeds and those less tolerant of the cold should wear some kind of jacket. Frostbite can affect the ears and feet of these animals.
- Any dog that is outside should have adequate shelter that is protected from all the elements and wind to allow the dog to maintain warmth. Do NOT use blankets in these shelters but rather straw, as blankets can get wet and thus actually pulls heat from the dog. Even breeds that are very cold tolerant, such as Huskies, Malamutes, and Newfoundlands should still have a shelter available to them.
- When using any sort of ice melter or salt, please try to find pet-friendly varieties. When finished walking your dog, wipe off their paws with a dampened towel to remove any salt or ice melt residue to prevent them from ingesting it by licking it off their paws. This can cause some vomiting and diarrhea in your dog.
- Do not tether your dog outside for any longer than 10-15 minutes when the temperatures are below 32 degrees. Pennsylvania law states it IS illegal to tether them for longer than 30 minutes in such temperatures.
- Do not leave pets locked in cars during the extreme cold weather, as they can easily start to suffer the effects of hypothermia even though they are in the car.
- Make sure to completely dry off your dog if they become wet for any reason, as a wet coat does not allow them to conserve heat normally.
- If ice/snow balls accumulate on your dog’s coat, please gently remove them to prevent frostbite setting in on the skin just under them.v
- If you are taking care of feral cat colonies, please make sure dry shelter is available to them and bring them fresh water a few times a day as water will freeze very quickly in these temperatures. Heated outdoor water bowls are a good idea for them as well.
- For those who own livestock or horses, please check on them regularly. For horses, make sure their shelters are sturdy and properly bedded with straw. If automatic waterers are used, make sure they are working and do not freeze. Oftentimes, fresh water needs to be brought to them multiple times a day. Colic in horses is a very severe concern due to lack of adequate water intake. Horses should be monitored to make sure they do not need to have blankets put on during this weather.
- Remember, that in cold temperatures animals burn more calories to stay warm, so make sure pets and livestock are fed appropriately for the weather conditions.
- Monitor your animals for any signs of early hypothermia (being listless, disorientated, uncontrolled shivering, etc.) and alert your veterinarian immediately if any of these conditions are seen.
“Cold-related deaths of animals are 100% preventable, so we urge everyone to take the proper precautions now for the health and wellbeing of their animals,” says Dr. Langlois. “In addition, if you see any animal out in the elements that is not properly cared for or in danger because of the cold, please contact your local law enforcement agency about it immediately so the situation can be corrected.”
For more information about protecting animals from cold weather, visit PAVMA.org.
About the Pennsylvania Veterinary Medical Association (PVMA)
Founded in 1883, PVMA is PA’s only statewide professional membership organization for the veterinary profession representing over 3,400 veterinarians, certified veterinary technicians, assistants, practice managers, and other support staff. Our mission is to ensure the vitality of the profession by promoting excellence in veterinary medicine, advancing animal health and welfare, and protecting, and enhancing human health. To learn more visit PAVMA.org.
Pennsylvania Veterinary Medical Association (PVMA)
Director of Marketing & Communications
8574 Paxton Street
Hummelstown, PA 17036
P: 717.220.1437 x103