When the temperature drops, pet owners beware

pets get cold quickly from the crisp, chilly air. 

The Companion Veterinary Clinic team shares tips you need

to keep your pet safe in the cold—guaranteed. 

Pets and frostbite

When the temperature gets chilly—though I have soft fluffy hair, 

I can easily get frostbite from the frigid outdoor air. 

If the temperature is below freezing, and you leave me out too long,

I can get extremely sick, and things can go very wrong. 

My ears, nose, and paws are the extremities most at risk.

Protect me from frostbite, and keep me in when the weather’s too brisk. 

A note on frostbite — Frostbite, which also affects people, is a painful medical condition that causes blood vessels to constrict, redirecting extremities’ blood to warm and protect the vital organs, including the brain, lungs and heart. As a result, your pet’s tail, nose, ears, and paws are most susceptible to frostbite. Although rarely life-threatening, frostbite is often a precursor to hypothermia, which can be deadly. Frostbite signs include:

  • Brittle or shriveled skin that stays cold to the touch
  • Skin that is initially pale or bluish-white, eventually becoming red and puffy
  • Red or gray-tinged skin on the ears, tail, or nose
  • Ears, tail, paws, or nose painful to the touch
  • Ice crystals in or around the nose

If your pet has frostbite signs, contact your veterinarian to determine if your four-legged friend requires treatment and medication to control pain or prevent infection. 

Pets and hypothermia

Another risk I face, when outside in the cold

is developing hypothermia—a serious condition I am told. 

Beware of freezing temperatures, and if I get too wet, 

bring me in and dry me off to avoid this dangerous threat. 

A note on hypothermia — A healthy pet’s body temperature ranges from 100 to 102.5 degrees. However, prolonged exposure to cold temperatures, including cold water, can cause hypothermia, a serious medical condition that occurs when your pet’s body temperature drops below 100 degrees. Hypothermia signs can range from mild shivering to severe lethargy, depending on the duration of cold exposure. Monitor your pet for the following hypothermia signs:

  • Shivering
  • Lethargy
  • Shallow or labored breathing 
  • Low heart rate
  • Dilated pupils
  • Pale or bluish skin
  • Decreased appetite
  • Rectal temperature below 98 degrees

Bring your pet inside immediately if you notice any hypothermia signs, cover them with a warm, dry towel or blanket, and contact our Companion Veterinary Clinic team.

Cold and paw protection for your pet

Pets with thick fur coats may not need extra heat. 

But others may need a jacket and booties on their feet. 

The cold, ice, and snow can chap my paws and skin.

So, wash my paws after walks—who knows where they have been? 

A note on footwear — Protective footwear can decrease your pet’s risk of irritation from ice melt chemicals, and can provide extra traction on snow and ice. 

Pets and antifreeze poisoning

The liquid called antifreeze—that people use on cars and at home.

It’s delicious—and deadly—for pets, so keep it away from where I roam.

Antifreeze can be lethal if I taste it, so keep a watchful eye on me,
to avoid a scary outcome and a pet emergency.

A note on antifreeze poisoning — Contact your veterinarian immediately if you know or suspect your pet has ingested antifreeze, which is rapidly absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract.  Initially, your pet will behave similar to a person who drank too much alcohol, but signs will worsen over the next several days as their kidneys and liver absorb and metabolize the toxin. Pets’ antifreeze toxicity signs may include:

  • Wobbly or uncoordinated movement
  • Increased heart rate
  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Dehydration
  • Tremors
  • Anorexia
  • Fainting 
  • Low body temperature
  • Increased thirst and urination
  • Excess salivation
  • Seizures
  • Mouth ulcers or sores
  • Coma

Cold weather can be fun for a family and their pet,

and by taking safety precautions, your furry friend will be all set. 

If you have any questions, or if your pet gets sick,

Contact Companion Veterinary Clinic, to help them feel better quick.