December 10, 2009

News Release

For Immediate Release

Protect Pets during Cold Weather

Winter weather can be harmful to pets as well as to humans, leading to hypothermia and frostbite. Old and very young pets are most at risk.

It is best to keep pets indoors during the coldest winter days. Owners should provide indoor pets with a bed or mattress that is elevated slightly off the floor in a warm, draft-free area of the house.

“Some pets are better suited than others for living outdoors,” says assistant director of health Clay Goddard, “but all pets need adequate shelter from winter weather, fresh cold water, and nutritious food for energy and maintaining body heat.”

Outdoor pets should have suitable shelter that is off the ground to prevent moisture build up and is protected from wind, rain and snow. Pets should also be provided straw or blankets to help them hold their body heat.

Pet safety should be considered in the garage, as well. Keep all antifreeze containers locked up away from animals. Always knock on the hood of a car or honk the horn before starting it to wake any cats that may be sleeping under the hood. Do not let a vehicle idle in the garage. Carbon monoxide poisoning is a silent killer for both humans and animals.

Use caution when walking a dog during severe winter weather, and keep him on the leash. Dogs can lose their scent and easily become lost when walking on snow or ice. Wipe the dog down when returning from a walk to remove any salt, antifreeze or other potentially dangerous chemical. Use a warm, wet towel to carefully remove ice and salt from the dog’s paws.

Frostbitten skin may appear red or grey and may slough off. Place a warm, moist towel on the area to thaw out frostbitten areas slowly until the skin appears flushed. Contact your veterinarian as soon as possible if you suspect your pet has frostbite.

Leaving pets in a car during the winter may be deadly. Also, don’t shave your dog down to the skin during the winter. Longer coats will provide warmth. Consider placing a sweater on short-haired dogs. When bathing pets during the winter, be sure to completely dry them before taking them outside.

Media contact:
Jaci McReynolds
Public Information Administrator
Springfield-Greene County Health Department
227 E Chestnut Expressway
Springfield, MO 65802
(417) 874-1205 office
(417) 830-9511 cell

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