Caution! This Extreme Winter Weather Poses Health Hazards for Your Pets

This week Dr. Miller will be writing this blog post to offer you and your pet important safety tips in the face of this cold weather we are having. 

1. The most common problems we see with cold weather are dermatological (skin). If you itch from dry, cold air so does your pet. The larger problem occurs when itching becomes intense leading to self mutilation and secondary staph infections. To avoid this we have humectants to aid in holding moisture in the skin and can recommend supplements to aid in skin oil production. If at any time you see inflamed areas or patches of hair loss call us immediately. A dog or cat can turn a quarter-sized dermatitis into a quarter-of-the-body infection within a couple of hours
   Another  common dermatological  problem involves your pet's feet.  The webbing between the toes is very sensitive to cold. This leads to inflammation and excessive licking and finally a full blown infection.  Booties are great if your pet tolerates them.  Otherwise keep exposure to snow and treated paths (de-icer or salt) in these extreme temperatures to a minimum. 
   Finally, the frigid temps can irritate the ears resulting again in self trauma from rubbing or scratching. Call at any indication of excessive scratching or pain in or around the ears.

2.  The respiratory tract and cardiovascular system are also sensitive to dry cold air.  Inflammation occurs leading to sinus drainage, sore throats, bronchial irritation and even bronchial spasms causing asthma like symptoms.  Our heart patients are oversensitive to the cold air. Irritation to the airways can lead to dramatic effects on blood pressure and heart rates. The main way to avoid these problems is keeping exposure to a minimum. Call us if you suspect any problems.  

3. Simply put; use common senseSubzero temps are dangerous and can lead to frostbite, hypothermia, and death. Putting sweaters on pets aid in retaining body temperature but if you see shivering with stress posturing (tail and head down with arched back) get them inside immediately. 

4. Northern tier dogs (Huskies, Burmese Mountain Dogs, Malamutes, etc), because of their coats and genetic adaptions, are much less prone to these problems.  However as they age, they become more susceptible to the cold.  

So let them have fun in the snow as long as you observe them and minimize exposure.
And remember in 6 to 8  weeks we'll start cutting grass again!    

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