How to keep your pets safe as the temperatures drop

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) – When the temperature drops, pets need special attention, whether outdoor or indoor.

The severe cold of winter can be just as dangerous for pets as the sweltering heat during summer months.

Dr. Jim Guntharp of Jonesboro Family Pet Hospital said there are several ways people can protect their pets from the cold. "People need to remember that the wind, such as what we've got today, the chill factor will lower the temperature for the pet, and they need to be aware that they can chill out pretty easy."

Dr. Guntharp recommends keeping the animals inside if possible. If living indoors is not possible, he said an extra coat is always an option. "They might want to consider putting a sweater or a coat on them. Even a turtleneck to keep them warm, even if they're going outside for just a few minutes."

Johnnie Jones, Jr. said he limits the outside time in the summer and winter of the yorkie poodle he bought for his wife six months ago. "Sometimes you can't keep him out 30 minutes, it's real hot. But when it gets cold you want to bring them in so they won't get congested, having colds just like humans."

For those times when Mother Nature calls and a trip outside is absolutely necessary, Dr. Guntharp advises inspecting the bodies of the pets. "When they come in they need to wipe the footpads off, they need to wipe the legs off, then wipe the bellies off of the dogs," he said. "Because sometimes they'll get antifreeze from cars. Or even some of this rock salt and other stuff that's used to melt ice and snow."

Dr. Guntharp said many of the ways to keep pets healthy are common sense, but some things are not so obvious.

Tips from on How to Winterize Your Pet

  • Provide a well-insulated structure just large enough so that the pet can curl up inside to maintain body heat. The structure should have a wind-block to protect it from wintry blasts.
  • Animals that spend significant time outside will need more calories during cold weather.
  • Thump on your car's hood on cold mornings to alert a cat that might have nestled against the engine for warmth overnight.
  • Cold weather can aggravate your pet's arthritis.  Ask a veterinarian about supplements or prescriptions to make them comfortable.
  • Towel dry your pet if it gets wet from rain or snow.
  • Apply petroleum jelly to the pads on their feet to prevent cracking.
  • Don't leave your dog alone in the car to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning or cold temperatures.
  • Provide fresh water.  Snow is not a satisfactory substitute for water.
  • Be careful with supplementary heat sources such as fireplaces and portable heaters.

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