New England is known for cold winters, but this year has really hit that message home. Lots of snow, ice, and frigid temperatures have become a serious health hazard to many individuals and families living in Southeastern Massachusetts. Unfortunately, the cold weather also affects pets; many of whom are left outdoors for hours at a time with no shelter. While most pet owners are aware of the dangers associated with freezing temperatures, some don’t seem to care. It is important for New Bedford pet owners to do all that they can to keep their pets safe this winter.
Record Freezing Temperatures
The East Coast has been hit with some severe winter weather this year. Cold snaps, unprecedented “bomb cyclone” storms, “arctic freezes” and other trendy terms fill the airwaves. Pets are no more resistant to the cold weather than we are, so it is important to keep them indoors even if they normally spend a lot of time outside. In some conditions, it is too cold to walk dogs or even let pets outdoors for more than just a few minutes to do their “business” in the backyard. Our emergency veterinary hospital sees many pets each year who have been harmed or injured due to winter weather.
Winter tips for small pets are extremely important. Smaller dogs and cats are more at risk than larger animals. However, that doesn’t mean that large dogs can stay outdoors in New England winter weather. When the temperatures get below 30 degrees, it is not safe for any animal to be outdoors for any length of time. Warm clothing, such as coats or sweaters for dogs, are helpful for short trips outdoors. However, they cannot be relied upon for more than a few minutes. Dogs can get hypothermia if they are left outdoors for long periods of time. A dog that is shivering needs to be warmed immediately and, quite possibly, taken to a Southeastern Massachusetts emergency vet for an examination.
What About Booties?
Veterinarians get frequently asked about dog booties for going out in the snow. It is important to protect your pet’s paws in the winter. Not just from snow and ice, but from the chemicals that are used to thaw frozen sidewalks and streets. Even if you use booties for your dog, make sure to wipe down their feet and check their paws for any swelling or redness. The age of your pet will determine tolerance as well. Older and very young pets may be more susceptible to health risks associated with winter weather.
Other conditions must be considered as well. Pets with kidney disease, heart disease, hormonal imbalances, and diabetes will have difficulty regulating body temperature. This can cause issues with their health in other ways, making cold weather a very serious problem. Speak with a professional at your local emergency veterinary hospital. During your regular check-up, ask about winter tips for small pets, ideas for keeping pets warm during the winter, and other tips that New Bedford pet owners can use to their advantage year-round.
Other Tips to Remember
In addition to proper care for your own pet, make sure to think about other outdoor animals. Neighborhood and feral cats will often curl up under the hood of a car or up in the wheel well of the tires. Bang on your car before starting it in the winter to prevent an accident from occurring. In addition, keep things like antifreeze and other winter chemicals away from pets. Many animals are attracted to the sweet smell of antifreeze and will drink it if the opportunity comes available.
Don’t lock your pet in a car. It may seem warmer, but cars can act like refrigerators and actually hold in the cold air. Always use a leash when walking near water. Even though your pet might stay away from the lake in the summer, when it becomes frozen, they might try to walk on the ice. If your pet falls into the water, don’t go out onto the ice. Try to reach them from shore and call 9-1-1. However, prevention is key for situations like this. Leashes are important year-round, but especially during the winter months. You can help keep your pet out of danger and avoid a trip to the emergency veterinary hospital.
Anchor Animal Hospital for New Bedford Pet Owners
If you own a pet in the South Coast area, consider bringing them to our general and emergency veterinary hospital in Dartmouth, Massachusetts. Anchor Animal Hospital is an accredited member of the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA). We undergo regular inspections by AAHA to ensure compliance with their high-quality standards of care. These standards cover our exam facility, pet health records, diagnostic imaging, pharmacy services, dental and nursing care, and emergency services. Only around 15 percent of all veterinary hospitals in North America receive accreditation by AAHA. If you would like to schedule an appointment for an exam, give us a call at 508-996-3731.