Pets Best Insurance’s tips to take the chill out of winter pet danger
Posted on January 1, 2011 under Pet Health & Safety
Posted by: H.R.
For Pets Best Insurance
Colder weather means harsher conditions for dogs and cats, as well as added pet stress. Pets Best Insurance offers complete pet health insurance for dogs and cats with the freedom to choose veterinarians. Although they will be there to help out if a pet has an accident or illness, the company recommends taking precautions to ensure that pets stay healthy all winter long.
Frostbite and hypothermia are among the most common dog and cat dangers that require veterinarian treatment during winter months. Severe frostbite can result in amputations, and hypothermia can occur in any pet that is not properly acclimated to cold outdoor air.
According to Jennifer Hennessey, DVM, an emergency veterinarian in Dallas, Texas, “the biggest risks of cold weather illness are with the pets that are not adjusted to spending lots of time outdoors; pets less adapted to the elements—the same problem we face in pets in summer.”
Hennessey recommends building outdoor shelters for both dogs and cats. Covered, insulated shelters, with openings that face away from the wind, offer safe, warm hideouts. Adequate shelter may reduce the chances that cats will seek warmth in dangerous locations, such as under car hoods.
“I’ve seen the results of a cat that was sleeping under a hood and near a fan blade when a car was started,” said John Van Zante of the Helen Woodward Animal Center in San Diego, California. “Some live through it but that usually involves the loss of a tail, paw, ear, or some other body parts.”
Banging on the hood while approaching the car and honking the horn before starting the engine can help scare away any animals that may be perched under the hood.
Antifreeze is both tempting and toxic to pets. Some companies now include a bitterant in their coolant and have developed “pet-friendly” antifreeze, less toxic blends that are more environmentally friendly.
Winter is harder on elderly and ill pets. Pets Best Insurance offers routine wellness cat and dog health care coverage, and recommends having a pets health evaluated by a veterinarian before any strenuous winter activities or trips.
According to Justine Lee, DVM, an emergency critical care veterinary specialist in Minnesota who also works with sled dogs in Alaska, time spent in non-running cars should be limited, and running cars must be well-ventilated to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.
Pets in unheated cars should also have extra warmth protection such as jackets and blankets, but “if a dog has underlying hypothyroidism (an underactive thyroid) or a medical condition where he can’t regulate his temperature normally, I wouldn’t recommend [leaving the pet in the car] at all,” said Lee