The weather outside is frightful, and according to the Farmer’s Almanac, we’re in for more serious chills this season. For families with a furry family member or two, cold weather means an added level of responsibility when it comes to keeping your canine or feline friend healthy. The colder the temperature drops, the more important is to be aware of the impact extreme temperatures can have on your family pet. Snow, ice, low temperatures, and the additional bacterial and viral conditions that go right along with them are all things you’ll need to look out for.
At Normandale Vet Hospital in Edina, our veterinary care team is experienced at providing compassionate veterinary care for pets during the cold weather. In this post, we’ll discuss the biggest winter illnesses that can impact your pet and talk about what you can do to keep your pal safe this season.
Pet Care and Common Winter Illnesses
One of the most common mistakes pet owners can make when the weather is cold is assuming because their pet isn’t making noise or acting injured that he or she is fine in the cold. But sadly, many pet owners make the mistake of leaving their pets outdoors for long periods in frigid temperatures, a mistake which can cause them serious harm.
If you are concerned about your pet’s health this season, it’s a good idea to stop by Normandale Veterinary Hospital for a check-up with our veterinarians. We’ve also included this list of health concerns to watch out for:
1. Frostbite- When a pet’s body becomes very cold, the animal’s body will use more blood to maintain his or her body temperature, leaving the extremities colder. When this happens, her tail, paws, and ears can become so cold that ice crystals form within her tissue, causing tissue damage. If your pet shows signs of frostbite, you’ll need to get her in a warm, dry spot as soon as possible.
Use warm water to melt all of the ice crystals, restoring circulation. Refrain from massaging the frostbitten areas, which can be extremely painful. When she’s warm enough, wrap her in warm blankets and bring her in for a diagnosis and professional care.
2. Hypothermia- Hypothermia is a condition that can occur when a mammal loses heat faster than it can stay warm, which causes the animal’s body temperature to drop too low. Normal body temperature for dogs is about 102.5 F, and a cat’s normal body temperature is 99.5-102.5.
When they begin to suffer from hypothermia, their heart rates and breathing will begin to slow as their body temperature drops. Other signs include weakness, depression, lethargy, restlessness, and shivering. Hypothermia can also occur when pets with wet coats are exposed to the cold. Pets who suffer from health conditions such as heart problems and diabetes are at greater risk.
3. Winter Illnesses- In addition to frostbite and hypothermia, you should also be aware of winter illnesses that can harm your pet. Upper respiratory infections are common in pets during the cold season. Symptoms can include a slight cough, lethargy or fatigue, sneezing, a runny nose, and watery eyes.
Common treatments for respiratory infections include fluids, rest, and using a humidifier. In puppies and older dogs, flu and pneumonia are major concerns. Kennel cough is a contagious illness that can occur in dogs.
Keep Your Pet Healthy All Winter Long
At Normandale Veterinary Hospital, we care about keeping Edina pets safe and warm all winter long. If you’re concerned about keeping your furry family members healthy when the weather is cold, we would love to help you make decisions to protect your pets. Bring them in for a health check and speak to us about winter safety tips for your pet’s breed and individual health needs. Speak to a member of our veterinary care team at 952-831-8272 or connect with us on our contact page to schedule your appointment.