The average winter temperature in Virginia is 32 degrees, which is also the point of freezing. At Battletown Animal Hospital, we urge you to keep this in mind when your pet spends time outside this winter. 

You certainly don’t have to avoid letting your pet outside, but it’s important to take precautions to reduce the risk of a winter illness or injury. For example, invest in an insulated dog house if your dog spends several hours outdoors every day. Although she might not like wearing them, you might also want to buy clothing and booties for your pet to ensure extra warmth while the weather is cold. 

Know the Signs of Cold Weather Trouble
Your pet could potentially develop hypothermia or frostbite if exposed to temperatures below 32 degrees for a long period. You may notice that he shivers uncontrollably, seems weak or lethargic, or bodily tissues appear black or bright red. Frostbite typically occurs on the paw pads, tips of the ears, and the tail. It can lead to hypothermia if not treated, which is the more serious condition. You should contact us right away if the affected areas of your pet’s body become dark instead of reddening as they thaw.

 
Other Winter Safety Hazards for Pets
Using anti-freeze gives you extra assurance that your car will start on a cold day. The problem is that it looks like water to your pet and has a sweet smell that can entice him to drink it. Make sure that you keep unused anti-freeze on a high shelf in your garage and wipe up any spills right away. Your pet might have consumed anti-freeze if he appears confused, vomits, or drools more than usual.


Keep in mind that cats, small dogs, and even some wild animals might hide under the hood of your car, in the exhaust system, or the wheel well when the weather gets cold. Before starting your car, be certain that an animal hasn’t taken up residence. Even if a pet survives a car ride, she is likely to experience long-term carbon monoxide poisoning effects.

Road salt, made from sodium chloride and chemical additives, helps to melt ice on driveways, sidewalks, and streets to make them safer for people to walk or drive on. However, road salt can be toxic to pets if they ingest it as well as cause pain and inflammation when they step on it. If your pet needs to walk over road salt, consider covering her paws with booties. Additionally, keep the fur between toes cut short so road salt doesn’t stick to it. 

What to Do in an Emergency
If you think your pet has hypothermia, has ingested a toxic substance, or is experiencing another type of emergency, please contact Battletown Animal Hospital during regular business hours at 540-955-2171 to request an immediate appointment. After hours, you may call Life Centre at 703-777-5755 or Valley Veterinary Emergency and Referral Service at 540-662-7811.


Photo Credit: MirasWonderland / Getty Images