PHILADELPHIA -- The cold weather is here and extra care needs to be taken to keep companion animals comfortable and healthy. Veterinarians at the Veterinary Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania offer the following tips:
- Cats like to climb onto car motors to hide, find warmth and lick antifreeze that has been spilled around the radiator cap. The ethylene glycol in antifreeze has a sweet odor and taste and seems to lure animals. A very small amount of the liquid can be lethal to cats and dogs. If an animal has had contact with contaminated surfaces, seek veterinary attention quickly. When filling the radiator, wipe up any spillage on the engine and under the car.
- Because cats like it under the car hood during cold weather, thump the hood a few times before entering the vehicle and turning the key. That will give the animal time to scamper away and not be hurt by the fan or fan belt.
- When walking a dog, keep it leashed. Avoid icy walkways as the animal (and the human) can slip and pull muscles and ligaments. Slips and falls can aggravate existing conditions like hip dysplasia and cause lameness. If a dog limps after a walk, let it rest and watch it. If things don’t improve after 24 hours, call your veterinarian. Owners of older or overweight dogs should be particularly careful with these animals when they are walked.
- Short-coated and small breed dogs should wear a sweater or coat to keep them warm when going outside.
- After a walk, a dog’s feet should be washed and dried because salt and other material spread on sidewalks causes irritation to the feet.
- Dogs get cold, just like people. Don’t leave the animal outside for extended periods. If you have an outside dog, bring it in. In very cold temperatures, dogs should not be left outdoors and certainly not overnight.
- When shoveling snow, keep the dog away. Many dogs like to jump at the snow as it flies from the shovel, however, in their exuberance they may run into the sharp edge of the shovel and get cut.
- When the snow is deep, clear an area where the dog can relieve itself. Many dogs, particularly small ones, will not relieve themselves in deep snow.