When it comes to pets, most of the headline news comes in the blistering hot days of summer when dogs, and the occasional cat, are found in a car, with the windows rolled up during a 96-degree afternoon.
The temperature inside the car can quickly climb to more than 125 degrees, and often pets do not survive.
But Dr. Curt Cavanaugh, owner of the Cavanaugh Pet Hospital in Blue Springs, said winter can be just as deadly.
“It’s crazy that we’ve already had more snow in 2018 than we had all last year,” Cavanaugh said, as he looked out his office window at snow-filled courtyard.
“And pet owners have to be aware of what cold weather – especially extremely cold weather like we’ve experienced this week – can do to their pets.”
He said pets with short hair can be affected more than pets with longer hair that are more adaptable to the cold and snow.
“There are dogs that love to be outside and can survive much easier than a beagle or a dachshund, the short-hair dogs,” Cavanaugh said. “But it really doesn’t matter what type of pet you have. When it’s cold watch them outside, and make sure they get back in the house where it is warm as soon as possible.”
“We’ve had pets in here, and some stray dogs and cats, that’s ears have suffered from frostbite and are misshapen and really damaged. The same with their feet.”
“If you let your dog outside, or, if you take it for a walk, really pay close attention to the pads of its feet. If the salt compound they put down on the street gets into a cut or scrape it can be very painful and cause a lot of problems.”
“You might want to even pick them up and wash off their paws before you set them down in the house if you walk near streets or sidewalks that have been treated.”
Cavanaugh said common sense is the best approach.
“First and foremost, be aware of the temperature,” he said. “When it gets really cold, don’t let you pet spend a lot of time outside.”
“Walks are good for your pet, but don’t take extended walks in freezing weather because a dog is like a human – it can fall and break a leg, experience knee problems or muscle tears. We see it all the time.
“And while some pets simply refuse to wear them, I’m a big believer in doggie sweaters. There are even dog boots that really help keep the dog’s feet in good shape in cold weather like this.”
“And if you have an outside pet, find a place in the house or your basement for it to spend as much time as possible. You want to keep warm, and your pet should be warm, too.”