A blast of Arctic air has blown into the southeast. Overnight temperatures are forecast for the low teens Wednesday and Thursday nights in the metro Atlanta area. This frigid air mass will make it all the way down to Florida, with temperatures forecast to get to the mid 20s in central Florida on Thursday. With wind chills around zero, that can be dangerous not only for you, but for your pets. The thing about animals, as all owners know, is that they have to do their business, regardless of the conditions outside.
Animals can get frostbite and other cold weather injuries just like humans. You will be bundling up before you go outside, so you want to do what you can to prepare your pets as well. Smaller dogs and cats are much more venerable to the cold. If you let your cats outside, don’t until things warm up. As for the dogs, use a sweater or other jacket for them if you have one. I can’t offer a suggestion on getting them on dogs that won’t want to wear a sweater. Once they do their business, come in as quick as possible. The areas that are at most risk are the ears, paws, scrotum and tail. Tissue can freeze if their body temperature drops to 4 degrees below their normal temperature. Give your dog a quick exam when you get back in to see if anything looks different. If the dog is still shivering when you get back in, wrap it up in a towel that has been warmed in the dryer. If your grass has frost on it, you may want to wipe the paws in a warm towel to make sure there aren’t any ice or frost crystals stuck in the pads.
Skin will become swollen, red and painful if your dog has been affected. If your pet is showing any of these symptoms, the affected body parts should be slowly warmed with wet towels. Get it to your vet or an emergency vet clinic as soon as possible to prevent long term damage and ward off infection. Don’t rub or squeeze the affected area because it will be painful for the pet. As with any first aid you provide to your dog, muzzle it to make sure it won’t lick the affected areas or bite you as you tend to it.
It’s important for you and your pet to stay hydrated in cold temperatures and that will help ward off cold weather injuries.
Another thing to keep in mind is that if you park your car outside outdoor cats like to climb in the engine to try and stay warm. Tap your hood a few times before you start your car to make sure there isn’t one in there.
Just remember to use common sense and if you don’t want to do something because of the cold, your pet likely won’t want to do it either.
Fetch! Pet Care provides pet sitting, dog walking and cat care services for Roswell, East Cobb, Marietta and Woodstock, GA. You can see the happy pets by checking out our Instagram page at http://instagram.com/fetchnwatlanta/.