Winter Safety tips to protect pets

MARQUETTE COUNTY — Now winter is coming and in some spots of the Upper Peninsula it is already here. So it is important to know some safety tips for pet owners who will be outside with their furry friends.

The misconception with pets and winter is that they don’t usually get cold because of all their fur. Now this may be true to a point but it’s not only the cold air that will get to them it’s also the freezing temps with slushy snow that they walk on.

“A lot of people assume when it is 0 degrees it is more dangerous than when it is 20 degrees,” said Veterinarian at Negaunee Vet. Clinic, Dr. Cheri Shevy. “But if it is wet out, that cold wet combination can actually be worse than just the cold. So I would definitely want to caution people, especially this time of year with that slushy, it is balling up in their feet and settling in deeper.”

Now with it settling in deeper could other issues that involve their feet and pads becoming damaged or cut up. Although there is an easy way to solve this problem and it’s simply by doing one task after an outdoor excursion with your pet.

“So have a foot washing and drying station when they come in,” explained Dr. Shevy. “You can check for all of those ice balls and other things. Look at their feet, dry their feet and make sure that there is no cut from the ice.”

Now this is not the only thing that can affect pets when outside. Some pets may experience hypothermia and sometimes even frostbite. Some symptoms can include being lethargic and incomprehensive and seem to not be acting normal.

“Like they are not able to comprehend a normal command when they normally do,” added Dr. Shevy. “Now for the frostbite, that does not happen very often. If it is going to happen it tends to be affecting ears more than feet and you do have to be careful with some of those ears.”

So taking your pet on short frequent trips outside instead of long durations can greatly decrease the risk of cold weather related injuries. Another way to reduce injuries is by having pets wear booties for their feet and sweaters or coats for the smaller dogs.

It is also to be wary of cats that may be sleeping inside vehicles, especially by in the hood of cars and trucks, to stay warm and out of the cold.