Vets Warn People to Watch Pets Amid Extreme Cold

As the temperature drops, veterinarians are warning people to keep a close eye on their pets.

Even bigger dogs that usually do well through the winter could show signs of hypothermia in these conditions. For small dogs, frostbite can set in in less than a half-hour.

Small dog owners across New England say it’s the same story every year.

"We’ve been outside for 30 seconds and she’s lifting her paw," said Jessica Stira of Haverhill, Massachusetts. "I double coat him, but it doesn’t seem to work."

But experts say on days as cold as Friday, even big dogs who usually do well this time of year need some extra attention.

"It’s just been such a quick change that she hasn’t had a great chance to acclimate," said Dr. Steve Gentilella, director of animal and medical services at the NHSPCA in Stratham, New Hampshire. "She’s not a dog that will wear a jacket all winter, but for this stretch she’s been wearing one."

Dr. Gentilella says you should limit your pet’s time outside.

If they start getting lethargic, or their extremities turn colors, that’s when the danger of frostbite or hypothermia is imminent.

"If you suspect that in your pet, you want to get them to the vet and warm them up in the meantime," Dr. Gentilella said.

Another way to keep your pets safe is buying some dog booties. They’ll keep their paws warm and also protect them from the salt and sand.

The best advice Dr. Gentilella has is to treat your animals like family and protect them the same way.

The ASCPA offers these tips for keeping your pets safe:

  • Keep your home humidified and towel-dry your pet as soon as it comes inside.
  • Never shave your dog down to the skin in winter.
  • Bathe your pets as little as possible during cold spells.
  • Feed your pet a little bit more during the cold weather months.
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