[January 7, 2014; Philadelphia, PA] – The cold weather is here and extra care needs to be taken to keep companion animals comfortable and healthy throughout the winter season. Dr. Kenneth Drobatz, Chief of the Emergency Service at Penn Vet’s Ryan Hospital, offers the following tips:

  1. Penn Vet, cold weather tipsWhen walking a dog, keep it leashed. Avoid icy walkways, as the animal can slip and pull muscles and ligaments. Slips and falls also can aggravate existing conditions like hip dysplasia. If a dog limps after going for a walk, let the animal rest and monitor the situation. If things do not improve after 24 hours, call your veterinarian. Owners of older or overweight dogs should be particularly careful with these animals when they are walked.
  2. Short-coated and small breed dogs should wear a sweater or coat to keep them warm when going outside.
  3. 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.
  4. When shoveling snow, keep dogs 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.
  5. After a walk, a dog’s paws should be washed and dried because salt and other material spread on sidewalks causes irritation to the feet.
  6. Dogs get cold, just like people. Do not leave a dog outside for extended periods. In very cold temperatures, dogs should not be left outdoors overnight.
  7. Cats like to climb onto car motors to hide and find warmth. While hiding on the motor, they also like to lick antifreeze that has spilled around the radiator cap. The ethylene glycol in antifreeze has a sweet odor and taste that 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.
  8. Because cats like to hide under the hoods of cars during cold weather, thump the hood a few times before entering a vehicle and turning the key. That will give the animal time to scamper away and not be hurt by the fan or fan belt.

In Case of an Emergency

As with any potential emergency, immediate attention from a veterinarian is imperative. Penn Vet’s Emergency Service is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.

In 2013, the American College of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care named Penn Vet’s Ryan Hospital one of only nine designated Veterinary Trauma Centers in the U.S. In addition, the Veterinary Emergency & Critical Care Society recently named Ryan Hospital a Level I Facility, making it the only institution to hold both of these prestigious distinctions.

The Emergency Service is staffed by an integrated team of board-certified specialists who attend to each patient’s emergency and critical care needs. Call 215-746-8911 or visit Penn Vet’s Ryan Hospital at 3900 Spruce Street.

About Penn Vet

Penn Vet is a global leader in veterinary medicine education, research, and clinical care. Founded in 1884, Penn Vet is the only veterinary school developed in association with a medical school. The school is a proud member of the One Health Initiative, linking human, animal, and environmental health.

Penn Vet serves a diverse population of animals at its two campuses, which include extensive diagnostic and research laboratories. Ryan Hospital in Philadelphia provides care for dogs, cats, and other domestic/companion animals, seeing nearly 33,000 patients a year. New Bolton Center, Penn Vet’s large-animal hospital on nearly 700 acres in rural Kennett Square, PA, cares for horses and livestock/farm animals, treating 33,000 patients each year – 4,100 in the hospital and 29,000 at farms through the Field Service. In addition, New Bolton Center’s campus includes a swine center, working dairy, and poultry unit that provide valuable research for the agriculture industry.

For more information, visit www.vet.upenn.edu.