WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) – Central Wisconsin is just now experiencing the most extreme cold it has seen all winter. Threats of frostbite among other things has residents bundling up more than usual and limiting time outdoors. But it’s also important to be conscious of how the cold affects pets. The Animal Legal Defense Fund says signs may not be obvious.
“Animals can’t really tell us how they’re doing. We may have a sense of, we can see an animal shivering or shaking, but a lot of animals are not going to be quite as clear about whether they’re suffering from extreme cold,” says Senior Staff Attorney David Rosengard.
Rosengard says that many animals won’t show when they’re in distress. But he recommends taking them to the vet if you see them acting strange. Also, there are small things we can do to prevent our pets from injury from the winter weather.
“If your dog will wear boots, it’s really convenient for them because then their paws aren’t getting cold and they don’t have the salt on their paw pads. So maybe just watching, and not going out right after the plow truck comes through, so they don’t lick the salt,” recommends Marathon County Humane Society Supervisor Kelsey Drysdale.
In regard to frostbite, animals are most vulnerable in their extremities, just like humans. For that reason, it is a good idea to pay extra close attention to their ears, paw pads and the tips of their tails.
Drysdale says that while there are pet-friendly salts, many commercial salts are not, so it’s best to wipe your pet’s feet after they come in from outside. She also advised to check the pet’s fur for snow build-up. But it’s not only our own pets we should be looking out for.
“Around this time of year a lot of animals crawl up under car hoods, because, especially if your car has been on recently, it’s pretty warm in there, and if they’re still in there when you turn your car on, that can end really badly for everyone,” said Rosengard.
It’s good to remember this rule of thumb: if it is too cold for you, it is probably too cold for your pet. As Rosengard says, they may be wearing a fur coat, but that doesn’t mean they’re built to withstand the freezing cold.
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