VCA Delaware Valley Animal Hospital has been offering veterinary services to our community since 1954. We are a full-service hospital located in Fairless Hills, Pennsylvania, near the Oxford Valley Mall. Our team of experienced professionals is dedicated to offering the utmost in veterinary care. We continue to offer our patients and clients excellent medical care, combining traditional medicine along with alternative choices. Our services range from routine yearly care and vaccines, routine spays and neuters, dentistry, elective and routine surgeries, radiography, bloodwork, exotics (rabbits, rodents, ferrets, chinchillas, sugar gliders, etc.), and acupuncture. Our veterinary staff has received special training in acupuncture and other alternative therapies (such as gold wire implantation and prolotherapy), and feline and canine behavior problems.
COLD WEATHER PET SAFETY
We wanted to take a moment to remind folks how important it is to keep your pet warm and dry during the cold winter months.
KNOW THE LIMITS: Just like people, pet’s cold tolerance can vary based on their coat, body fat stores, activity level, and health. Be aware of your pet’s tolerance for cold weather and adjust accordingly. You may need to shorten your dog’s walks in very cold weather to protect you both from weather related risks. Arthritic and elderly pets may have difficulty walking on snow and ice and may be more prone to slipping and falling. Long-haired and thick-coated pets tend to be more cold tolerant, but are still at risk in cold weather. Short-coated pets feel the cold faster because they have less protection, and short-legged pets may become cold faster because their bellies and bodies are more likely to come in contact with snow-covered ground. Pets with diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, or hormonal imbalances (such as Cushing’s disease) may have a harder time regulating their body temperatures. The same goes for very young and very old pets.
PROVIDE CHOICES: Pets prefer comfortable sleeping places and may change their location based on their need for more or less warmth. Be sure to give them safe sleeping options that they can adjust to their own needs for more or less warmth.
STAY INSIDE: Cats and dogs should be kept inside during cold weather. It’s a common belief that dogs and cats are more resistant to the cold weather than people due to their fur, but it is untrue. Just like people, cats and dogs are susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia and should be kept inside. Longer –haired and thick-coated dog breeds are more tolerant of the cold weather, but no pet should be left outside for long periods of time in below-freezing weather.
MAKE SOME NOISE: A warm vehicle engine can be an appealing heat source for outdoor and feral cats, but it’s deadly. Check underneath your car, bang on the hood, and/or honk the horn before starting the engine.
CHECK THE PAWS: Check your dog’s paws frequently for signs of cold weather injury or damage, such as cracked or bleeding paw pads. During a walk, sudden onset of lameness may be due to an injury or may be due to ice accumulation between his/her toes.
DRESS UP: If your dog has a short coat or seems bothered by the cold weather, consider a sweater or dog coat. Some pet owners also use properly fitted booties to protect their dog’s feet.
WIPE DOWN: During walks, your dog’s feet, legs and belly may pick up deicers, antifreeze, or other chemicals that may be toxic. When you get back inside, wipe down or wash your pet’s feet, legs, and belly to remove these chemicals and reduce the risk that your dog or cat will be poisoned after (s)he licks his/her paws or fur.
COLLAR AND CHIP: Many pets become lost in winter because snow and ice can hide recognizable scents that might normally help your pet find his/her way home. Make sure that your pet has a well-fitting collar with up-to-date identification and contact information. I microchip is a more permanent means of identification and registration must be kept up to date.
PREVENT POISONING: Clean up any antifreeze spills quickly, as even small amounts of antifreeze can be deadly if ingested by your pet.
AVOID ICE: When walking your dog, stay away from frozen ponds, lakes, and other bodies of water. It may look frozen, but there is no way of knowing if the ice will support your dog’s weight, and if (s)he breaks through the ice it could be deadly.
RECOGNIZE PROBLEMS: If your pet is whining, shivering, seems anxious, starts looking for warm places in which to borrow, get them back inside quickly because they may be showing signs of hypothermia. Frostbite is harder to detect, and may not be recognized until a few days after the damage is done. If you suspect your pet has frostbite or hypothermia, contact your veterinarian.
WINTER WELLNESS: Has your pet has his/her yearly wellness exam yet? Cold weather may worsen some medical conditions such as arthritis. Your pet should be examined by a veterinarian at least once a year, and it’s a good time to have him/her checked out now to make sure (s)he is ready and healthy for the upcoming cold weather.
If you have any questions regarding cold weather pet safety, please feel free to call our office and we will be happy to answer any questions or concerns you may have.