Turnip's Cat Tree
All the insight of the veterinary world, through the eyes of a hospital cat.
With the new year, we tend to refocus our energy on ways to improve our lives and that definitely includes the lives of our furry family members. Winter is always a tricky time of year, especially in the frozen tundra that is the Midwest, when the cold weather limits outdoor activities and can present unique hazards for our pets. With the recent exceptionally cold weather, we have had multiple conversations with our clients about different challenges they are experiencing at home and thought this would be a great time to share ways to help keep your pet stay healthy and active during these cold winter months.
Winter Healthy Hazards:
As many of our clients have experienced lately, the freezing cold temperatures have made walks/bathroom breaks outdoors short and sweet. It is very important to limit the time spent outside in these hazardous conditions. Frost Bite and hypothermia can set in faster than expected in any size of animal (humans included). Hypothermia occurs when body temperature falls below normal range from being exposed to cold temperatures for too long and the body is unable to regulate it appropriately. Signs of mild cases are shivering, depression, weakness and lethargy with severe signs being stiff muscles, low heart rate/respiratory rate and no longer responding to stimuli. Frost bite can occur in severe cases and occurs when ice crystals start to form in tissues in toes, paws, ears and tail and can lead to a change in color at the skin surface. If you suspect either condition in your pet, please seek veterinary medical attention immediately.
It may be difficult to tell if your pet is cold but we recommend following one simple rule: if the ear is cold, they are usually cold. Using sweaters or coats are a great way to keep your pup warmer and they don’t all have to be from doggy boutiques (although we always love seeing our stylish patients.) Using a small child’s sweatshirt or sweater works well for a large breed dog and now lots of discount retail shops and online stores care variety of options for pet clothing. Also, if your pet sleeps on the floor, having a thicker bed (about 3 inches off the ground) with higher sides to block any drafts can help keep the chill off indoors too. Be cautious about using heating pads with beds because direct contact with the pad can lead to burns and other injuries. If using a heating pad, use multiple layer of blankets between the heating pad and your pet while keeping on a lower setting. Also please ensure no wires are exposed for any pet to possibly chew and ingest or cause electrocution.
Also with sweaters and coats, another great option to keep dogs warmer on walks and avoid irritated paws are boots/covers for their feet. Not only will they help keep them warm, they will help protect against irritating salt/chemicals used on the side walks during winter months. These chemicals can be harmful to paw pads and can get stuck in the fur between toes causing pain and discomfort. If your dog refuses to don their fashionable booties, giving the paws a good wipe down with a clean, warm towel every time they come indoors will help remove irritating debris and reduce the risk of hypothermia. Also boots are a great way to give traction to older, arthritic dogs who might have a harder time on the snow and ice.
Please do NOT leave pets in your car! This can be just as dangerous as a hot car in the summer time. Cars can cool off rapidly once the heat is off and leaves pets at risk to develop hypothermia and frost bite and in severe cases even death.
Please avoid any frozen bodies of water (lakes/ponds) unless you are 100% sure they are frozen. Too many times pets have fallen through thin ice and very difficult and dangerous to rescue. Even if you are sure they are completely frozen, running on ice is great way for your pet to injury itself, especially tearing a cruciate ligament which I know many of our clients are familiar with and is not an inexpensive injury to treat.
A few tricks that can help your pet stay healthy indoors is keeping up with their hydration. Just like people, our pets are more susceptible to dehydration due to the low humidity. Encourage your pets to drink more water by adding ice cubes in water dish or having access to running water/fountains. You can also help stimulate their natural oil gland in their fur with daily brushing at home and supplementing omega 3 fatty acids. This can help keep their coats from becoming dull during the winter and reduce dry skin which can lead to itching and discomfort.
Finally, a potentially fatal toxin that always has an increase in exposure and incidence in the winter is antifreeze toxicity. Antifreeze can pool under cars in garages, drive ways and streets where unsuspecting animals are attracted to its sweet taste. The ethylene glycol crystals in the antifreeze can lead to kidney failure quickly if medical attention is not sought immediately and even then, sometimes its too late. Do not allow your pet to roam unsupervised or allow to drink from any puddles or water sources that you are not familiar as well as cleaning up any antifreeze spills in your garage or drive way immediately. Antifreeze toxicity signs are lethargy, anorexia, GI upset (vomiting or diarrhea) oral lesions, drooling, increased breathing or neurological signs. Please seek veterinary care immediately if you suspect your pet has ingested antifreeze.
Mary Roberg, DVM
Monday - Friday 7:00 am to 8:00 pm
Saturday & Sunday 7:30 am to 3:00 pm
OPEN 7 DAYS A WEEK!!!
House calls available by appointment
The hospital is closed on New Years Day, Easter, Memorial Day, 4th of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.
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HANOVER PARK ANIMAL CARE CENTER
1920 Ontarioville Road
Hanover Park, IL 60133
Phone (630) 830-6620
Fax (630) 830-6697
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