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As colder days approach, BluePearl Veterinary Partners recommends taking certain precautions to ensure your pet doesn’t suffer from cold-temperature related injuries.
Dr. Jennifer Pittman, a board-certified specialist in veterinary emergency and critical care medicine with Georgia Veterinary Specialists, a BluePearl Veterinary Partners hospital, offered this advice:
Antifreeze is highly toxic to people and animals. Cats and dogs are attracted to its sweet smell and taste, and will often sample some if left out in a container or spilled on the garage floor. If you suspect that your pet has come into contact with antifreeze, contact your veterinarian immediately. The success of treatment to antifreeze exposure depends on quick action.
Dogs and cats get frostbite! Any dog or cat who is exposed to very cold temperatures for more than brief periods of time can develop frostbite. If pets begin to shiver or their ears, tail, and feet show signs of frostbite such as redness in the early stages and pale, white or patches in more advanced cases of frostbite, bring them inside immediately.
Similar to when it is hot outside, never leave your pet alone in a car during cold weather either. In the winter, a car holds in the cold like a refrigerator and your pet could potentially freeze to death.
Much like humans, damp and cold weather can aggravate symptoms associated with arthritis in dogs and cats. If your pet is having trouble getting up or laying down, walking the stairs, or has started to cry when being picked up, a visit to the veterinarian is in order. Never medicate your dog or cat with human prescriptions or over-the-counter medications without consulting your veterinarian first. Most of them are toxic for pets; numerous arthritis treatments are available for them. Also, your dog or cat deserves a comfortable bed. Several pet and feed stores carry safe heated floor mats or non-electric warm bedding.
Pets need to have fresh water at all times. If you leave water outside for your pets, be sure it is does not freeze.
Outdoors on cold days, animals may seek shelter near something warm like a car engine. If an animal is near the engine when the car is started, serious injury can occur.
Starting a car to warm it up in a garage will trap carbon monoxide. It can only take a few minutes for a small pet to die in a sealed garage with a car running.
Ponds, rivers and lakes are hazardous for pets in winter even in Georgia, as the thin ice that may develop is not solid enough to support their weight. Keep pets and people away from such dangers. If they do fall in, call for help quickly! Unfortunately, people trying to rescue their best friends can endanger themselves as well.
“Your family veterinarian is the first line of defense when an emergency occurs. Keep contact information readily available at home and on your cell phone contacts list. If your pet is experiencing a medical emergency and taking your pet to your family veterinarian isn’t practical, emergency doctors from Georgia Veterinary Specialists are available 24/7 to help,” said Pittman.