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Ask Dr. Anna: Pet winter survival tips

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For all columns with Dr. Anna visit her blog here.

Winter Weather Preparedness Week is October 20th through November 9th.  Use these pet winter survival tips to prepare your pet for this winter.

Anna Coffin is the Veterinarian at Guthrie Pet Hospital and can be contacted at (405) 282-8796.

Anna Coffin is the Veterinarian at Guthrie Pet Hospital and can be contacted at (405) 282-8796.

For 2013–2014, Farmer’s Almanac is forecasting a winter that will experience below average temperatures for about two-thirds of the nation and higher precipitation for many parts of the country.  Pets become acclimated to temperatures just as we do, so it is important to take pet winter precautions to keep your pet warm and safe.

Outside pets tend to have less problems acclimating to weather because temperatures gradually change over time. However, if your pet is use to the indoors it can take up to two weeks to acclimate your pet to cold weather. Huskies and Malamutes (Artic breeds) are specifically bred to withstand colder temperatures. In generally, larger animals can withstand colder temperatures for longer periods of time, while very young and very old animals are more vulnerable to the cold. Health conditions can also compromise your pet’s ability to regulate its own body temperature.

Here is a list of pet winter survival tips:

1.  Shelter:  No matter where your pet stays, it’s important to make sure they have a warm shelter that protects them from the wind and rain.

2.  Clothing:  Many pets are not suited for cooler weather and will be more comfortable with a warm weather coat.  Coats are available in all sizes and thicknesses.

3.  Hiding spots:  Cats are resourceful critters and will curl up in many things including fire places, clothes dryers and especially car engines, so make sure to know where your pet is at all times and honk your horn or make noise before starting your car.

4.  Fresh water:  It’s always important to keep a fresh supply of clean water available at all times. Pets that don’t have access to fresh, unfrozen water are more likely to drink from puddles and gutters which can be contaminated with antifreeze, oil and other harmful chemicals.

5.  Paw protection:  Be sure to check your pet’s paws for frozen ice, salt and other chemicals which can cause discomfort, and if eaten cause stomach irritation.  Booties can help minimize exposure to all these elements but it can take some time for pets to get use to wearing these.

6.  Monitor for signs of arthritis: Older pets are more prone to arthritis which typically worsens with colder weather.  Snow and ice can also make walking more difficult and cause your pet to slip and fall.  Signs of arthritis include limping, slow to get up and move around, having difficulty jumping or difficulty climbing stairs.  See your veterinarian as there are many options to help alleviate these signs of pain.

Unfortunately, I do see several cases of hypothermia (below normal body temperature) every year. Some of the symptoms include shivering, lethargy, weakness, decreased heart rate, decreased breathing, and unresponsive to stimulus. Pets exhibiting these symptoms need to be seen by a veterinarian immediately. You can start to warm your pet by using a warm blanket or towel that has been heating in the dryer, warm water bottles, heating blankets or socks filled with rice and heated in the microwave. These objects may need to be wrapped so that they do not cause skin burns.

Please e-mail me with your questions at ACoffin@aol.com and put “Ask Dr. Anna” in the subject line or mail your questions to 123 West Harrison Guthrie, OK 73044

Spay and neuter your pets!

Categories: Column, Pets
  1. October 27, 2013 at 10:39 pm

    This is great information. Thank you for publishing this.

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