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Saturday, Apr. 25, 2015

Animal safety is vital in cold weather

Friday, January 11, 2013

(Photo)
COREY NOLES photo - Dr. Kyle Ouzts, a local veterinarian, examines a dog in his office. [Order this photo]
As the heart of winter approaches, people bundle up in coats, boots, hats.

But what about your pets?

When it's cold outside, people think of themselves, but often forget about their pets which could have a much tougher time with frigid temperatures.

Dr. Kyle Ouzts, veterinarian at Stoddard Animal Clinic in Dexter, said people need to remember that cold weather can harm some animals even faster than humans depending on a number of factors.

Ouzts listed a number of things people need to take into consideration when sending their pets outside in the winter.

1. Age -- The very young and the very old, just like with people, are particularly susceptible to problems in the cold.

2. Body size -- Especially with dogs, body size is a major factor with regard to heat dissipation. Ouzts explained that larger dogs can stay warm for longer periods, but a small dog like a yorkie could be at serious risk in little time at all.

3. Hair Coat -- This doesn't apply so much with cows and horses because of their size, but with dogs this can be a huge factor. Short-haired dogs will lose heat much faster than a long-haired dog.

Ouzts made the comparison between a chihuahua and a chow. A chow's thick mane is almost like wearing a heavy coat, so they would be more likely to withstand the temperatures for a longer period of time.

4. Moisture -- In short, a wet animal is a very cold animal. Think of it like stepping out of the shower into the outside elements. This can be particularly dangerous.

5. Wind -- Just like with people, wind can cause a pet to lose heat much faster. Even an animal in a dog house will still be exposed to some wind. Ouzts suggested turning the dog house away from the wind and finding a way to cover the door even with a piece of a blanket or something similar to act as a wind break.

6. External heat -- For outdoor pets, a source of external heat can make a lot of difference. Ouzts suggests a heat lamp. Having more than one animal so they can sleep together to conserve heat is suggested. For example, a herd of cattle will hold heat better than one lone cow.

7. Exposure length -- Animals that live indoors should not be left outside for extended periods of time. While a few minutes for them to "do their business" is fine, they should not be left unattended. Dogs not acclimated to living outside in the extreme temperatures do not handle it as well as an outside dog.

8. Insulation property of animal house for outside animals -- A plywood doghouse offers little to no protection from the elements. Ouzts suggests wood shavings, straw or even a blanket inside. Any way to further insulate the dog house will help to keep the animal warmer.

9. Adjustment time -- If your pets spend a lot of time outdoors, make sure to introduce them gradually to dropping temperatures, rather than exposing them to the extreme cold all at once.

10. Physical condition -- An animal's physical condition, Ouzts said, plays a large role in heat dispersion.

"Muscle creates heat," he said. "While a fatter animal will stay warmer than a skinny animal, fat does not produce heat."

11. Nutritional intake -- In extreme temperatures, an animal requires different amounts of food. In mid-winter as well as mid-summer an animal should eat more than it normally does. Eating more increases a body's metabolism, which creates heat and further enables pets to withstand more extreme conditions.

12. Drinking water temperature -- An often overlooked aspect is the temperature of an outdoor animal's drinking water. If the temperature of the water is near freezing, it can drastically lower body temperature and create more danger. Devices are made that help to keep water thawed and warm enough to safely injest. This is highly recommended for outdoor animals.

"This is important imformation for any animal owner to know," Ouzts said. "When it comes to harsh temperatures, animals are a lot like people, and extra measures are needed to stay warm and avoid any health problems that could arise."

As a general rule: If it's too cold for you, it's too cold for your pets.

For more information, contact your veterinarian or visit the Missouri Humane Society at www.hsmo.org.


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Sadly..this goes in one ear and out the other of many people. To many, a dog is just a dog. They don't care about the dog...they just want to "have one". Dirty food bowl..nasty or frozen water bowl....and the dog just lives a life of misery. Not really any life at all..just existing in someone's back yard. They are all around you...sadly.

-- Posted by Bearcat72 on Sun, Jan 13, 2013, at 8:45 PM


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