Vets warn snow and cold temps can make pets seriously ill

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — With temperatures dipping below freezing and snow on the way, you may think your pet can handle the weather with their built-in coats. But vets warn that’s certainly not the case.

“If they’re out there longer than you would be comfortable outside, you can bet they’re going to be uncomfortable,” explained Dr. Courtney Bowers, a veterinarian with the Richmond SPCA.

Bowers says it can only take a few minutes in the cold for your pet to become seriously ill.

“Dangers definitely include hypothermia just like people, also frostbite,” Bowers said. “So even though they have fur their noses, their paws, their ear tips are all areas where there’s not great blood supply or insulation,” said Bowers.

While Bowers says it takes no time to get seriously hurt, recovery could be a lengthy process.

“Skin peeling back, wounds, burn like injuries and the recovery can be days to weeks,” she said.

Bowers says you may also want to consider a coat for your pet.

“For the short haired animals that aren’t like your labs or your huskies, definitely a coat is appropriate,” Bowers added.

If you see an animal outside that doesn’t belong to you, Bowers says call authorities.

“Contacting animal control is appropriate because with these temps things can go south pretty quickly,” she said.

Animal control officers say Virginia law requires pets have proper shelter. That means four walls, with a roof and straw or dry bedding inside. They suggest when temps get this low to bring your pets inside. Failure to properly take care of your pet can result in criminal charges including neglect or animal cruelty.

The SPCA also warns to watch out for rock salts and chemicals put down to treat roads. They say that can quickly injure your pet’s paws and if they lick it, can lead to ulcers in their mouths.

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