Bitter cold weather brings danger for pets

Bitter cold weather brings danger for pets

With wind chills forecast for southcentral Wisconsin to reach minus 15 to minus 30 Sunday into Monday morning it will increase the dangers for both humans and their pets.

“I think no animal should be outside when it is that cold,” says Dr. Sandi Sawchuk, a clinical instructor at the UW Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital.  “You’re looking at pretty instant flesh freezing and even though dogs tend to have more padded feet and have hair on their feet they can still get very cold and get frost bit quite quickly.”

She says in bitter cold conditions, if an animal cannot be brought into a home, they need to have adequate shelter, food and water. 

“No dog can be outside in very frigid temperatures without shelter and appropriate housing.”

If a pet will tolerate wearing them, coats and boots can also help to protect pets from the cold, ice and salt.

“If they’ll tolerate it I think it is a good idea, especially for short haired dogs and really slender dogs and elderly dogs it is really helpful,” says Sawchuk.

The cold and snow can also create problems for dogs and cats that left to run.  Dr. Sawchuk says the conditions can make it difficult for the animal to pick up their own scent and find their way home.  She also says, in these conditions cats and other small animals will crawl into the engine areas of cars to try to stay warm.  She recommends tapping on the hood of the vehicle or tapping the horn to get any animals out before starting the vehicle.