Veterinarians: Protect your pets from cold & wind

Frostbite and hypothermia are possible during cold snaps

By: Tim Studebaker

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WARWICK, R.I. (WLNE) – When the thermometer dips and the winds pick up, many of us spend as little time outside as possible, and protect ourselves from the cold when we do need to go out.  Veterinarians say our furry friends need the same types of protection from frostbite and hypothermia.

Doctor Beth Labriola is a veterinarian with Cowesett Animal Hospital in Warwick.  She says, “Risk factors would be smaller dogs, dogs with short coats, dogs with health problems, if they can’t stay dry, if they’re not used to being out in the cold weather, really windy conditions with no shelter.”

She says some breeds of dogs are built to withstand the cold, but others should be kept indoors with short visits outside.

Labriola says, “Going outside to go to the bathroom and back in is perfectly fine.  I would say 15 minutes or less.”

She says outdoor dogs should be kept dry, with access to an insulated shelter away from the wind and liquid water to drink, not a frozen over water bowl.  (Heated water bowls are available to keep your dog’s water from freezing.)  All the same goes for outdoor cats.

Labriola says, “If there’s a cat that likes to go outside, that’s acclimated to the conditions and regularly goes out, they’re more likely to be able to tolerate the cold conditions, but again they need to have access to some kind of shelter.”

She also says outdoor animals may need more food when it’s cold, because they expend calories to keep themselves warm.  And, be sure to watch for signs of frostbite or hypothermia.

Labriola says, “Shivering is a big one.  Being curled up tight in a ball, refusing to answer to commands, moving slower than usual.”

She says if you suspect a problem, you’ll need to warm up your pet, but not too quickly, and call your vet right away.

© WLNE-TV / ABC6 2021

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