Follow These Tips for Keeping Pets Warm and Safe this Winter

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Feb. 10, 2014

LINCOLN, Neb. — Winter is here, and it is important to keep pets safe and warm during cold days, a University of Nebraska-Lincoln companion animal specialist said.

Lisa Karr-Lilienthal, UNL Extension companion animal specialist, said that cold weather can cause many problems for pets including frost bite and hypothermia.

Extremities such as the nose, ears and feet are especially susceptible to frostbite.

"How tolerant they are of the cold varies from animal to animal," the Institute of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources specialist said.

Signs that an animal has gotten too cold include shivering, lethargy, slowed respiration and skin discoloration.

"If that happens, warm them up but do it slowly," Karr-Lilienthal said. "Bring them inside, wrap them in warm blankets or dried sheets."

She cautioned not to put anything too hot directly on their skin, as they can be more susceptible to burns.

Karr-Lilienthal said that pets are just as susceptible to cold as people are.

"Any day where there is a cold advisory, the same would be true for your dog," she said.

She advised keeping outside bathroom trips short and to refrain from walking dogs on very cold days.

Outdoor dogs and cats should be fed more during the winter.

"They use the calories to put on weight," Karr-Lilienthal said.

If the temperature is dangerously cold, outdoor pets should be brought inside or kept in the garage.

People should also get in the habit of knocking on their car hood before driving because cats like to go there for warmth.

Lisa Karr-Lilienthal, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Animal Science
Heather Haskins
Student Writer
Sandi Alswager Karstens
IANR News Service

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