Now That Winter Has Come, Don’t Forget Pets, Ohio Valley Veterinarians Warn

As temperatures continue dipping into the teens and single-digits over the next week, area residents need to remember that prolonged exposure to below-freezing temperatures can put pets or farm animals in danger, according to a local veterinarian.

Dr. James Radcliffe of Town and Country Animal Hospital in Mount Olivet said when the temperature dips below 32 degrees, small dogs can get very cold very quickly. He said small and older dogs, including ones suffering from health issues like kidney disease, should not be out in the extreme cold for long periods of time.

Any time temperatures dip below 20 degrees, Radcliffe recommends shorter walks for dogs of all sizes, and providing them shorter amounts of time to roam the yard. He said dogs in this part of the world are not acclimated to being in such cold temperatures for long periods of time.

“Anything below 20 degrees, 10- or 15-minute walks — maximum,” Radcliffe said. “And even at 32 degrees, if they are are staying outside, the houses need to be insulated. They need to make sure they have fresh, unfrozen water. They need lots of thick bedding and they need to be checked on periodically. … Shivering, or acting like they are very slow or don’t want to move, can be signs of hypothermia. If a dog’s body temperature gets below 95 degrees it can be life threatening, so we need to get our pets inside.”

In addition, Radcliffe said pet owners should check their pets’ paws and pads following walks in cold weather, as they often can get salt or other anti-icing substances stuck to their fur or caught between their pads.

“Another thing they need to do is check their pads for frostbite. … Frostbite can happen any time the temperature is below 32 degrees. It is a true risk when it gets below 20 degrees, and at single digits those feet can get frostbite very very quickly, as can the tips of their ears and the tips of their tails,” Radcliffe said, adding the same rules apply to cats and any outdoor livestock. “They need shelter. … If you think it is too cold for you to be out there, you don’t want your dog out there, either.”