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Cold weather care

Keeping your furry friends safe during Midwest cold snap

Allyson Bento, Editor-in-Chief

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During the summer months when temperatures hit blistering highs, there is often daily reminders about keeping your pets cool and the dangers of leaving them alone in vehicles, but what about when temperatures dip to deadly lows? Pet owners find themselves bundling up or staying in but often forget to do the same for their furry friends.

While some pet owners could consider their furry friends “outdoor animals,” the truth is barns, shelters and outdoor pet homes can’t keep an animal from suffering during dangerously cold weather. The Midwestern states are experiencing the coldest air temperatures of this generation thanks to the polar vortex, so take extra care of your pets this week.

Some things to remember to ensure your pets stay warm and cozy during this weather include dressing up, checking their paws and staying inside at all costs. For dogs, they might look goofy but when you take your dog outside cover their paws, put on a sweater and make sure they are well-fit and kept dry.

“My dog has three sweaters and two different types of jackets,” UND student Dana Torgerson said. “She doesn’t wear booties, she won’t move when she wears them.”

You can find cold-weather clothing for your four-legged companion at local pet stores, outdoor stores and online. Prepare to be entertained by goofy strides as your dog gets used to their new boots.

While they are outside without cold-weather gear be sure to check their paws. According to the American Veterinary Medical Foundation (AVMF) you should be checking your dog’s paws frequently for cracked paw pads and bleeding, if you notice sudden lameness it could be a sign of injury or ice accumulation.

The ultimate protection against the cold is simple; stay indoors. All cats and dogs should be kept indoors during the weather that the Midwest is currently experiencing, despite the common, yet untrue, belief that fur can protect these animals from this cold weather.

According to AVMF, “Like people, cats and dogs are susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia and should be kept inside. Longer-haired and thick-coated dog breeds, such as huskies and other dogs bred for colder climates, are more tolerant of cold weather; but no pet should be left outside for long periods in below-freezing weather.”

Be sure to look for warning signs while dogs are outside, these could include: dogs not walking on all four feet or limping, which could indicate frostbite, dogs standing still or lying down, which could mean their body temperature is getting too low.

“If you notice your dog shivering, acting anxious, whining, slowing down, searching out warm location or holding up one or more paws, it’s time to head inside,” Jennifer Coates, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, said for petmd.com.

Sadly, during cold weather pets may become lost. Snow and ice can mask familiar scents that might help your pet find their way back to you. Make sure your pet has a well-fitted collar and dog tags with information to help reunite them. Another way is a microchip, which is a more permanent identification, but it’s critical that you keep the registration up to date.

If you and your pet do get separated check local shelters, vets and call GFPD at 787-8000 and/or EGFPD at 773-1104 EGFPD. Also, there are Facebook pages for posting lost or found pets you can check your local Facebook groups for more information or you can visit the Circle of Friends Humane Society website page and post information about your lost pet to help to identify it in case it is brought in.

So, while many Midwest states shut down during the dangerously cold weather, and you spend your “snow day” inside, don’t forget to think about your four-legged companion and their safety too.

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