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Pet Pantry of Lancaster County offers tips on keeping your furry friends safe in the approaching cold

LANCASTER COUNTY — The medical director of a Lancaster County animal shelter issued a reminder Tuesday that the incoming blast of arctic air could pose a ...

LANCASTER COUNTY — The medical director of a Lancaster County animal shelter issued a reminder Tuesday that the incoming blast of arctic air could pose a danger to pets and farm animals, and urged owners to take proper precautions to prevent excessive exposure to the cold.

Dr. Bryan Langlois, medical director of Pet Pantry of Lancaster County, said in a press release that “while some animals are bred to handle the cold better than others, the extreme cold snap coming presents dangers to all animals.”

Among the things animal owners should keep in mind, according to Langlois, are:

  • Limiting time outdoors and walks for dogs to 10 to 15 minutes. Shorter coated breeds and those less tolerant of the cold should ideally have a jacket of some kind on. Frostbite can affect the ears and feet of these animals.
  • Any dog that is outside should have adequate shelter that is protected from all the elements and wind to allow the dog to maintain warmth. Do NOT use blankets in these shelters but rather straw as blankets can get wet and thus actual pull heat from the dog when wet. Even breeds that are very cold tolerant, such as Huskies, Malamutes, and Newfoundlands should still have a shelter available to them.
  • When using any sort of ice melter or salt, please try and find pet friendly varieties. When finishing walking your dog, wipe off their paws with a dampened towel to remove any salt or ice melt residue to prevent them from ingesting it by licking it off their paws. This can cause some vomiting and diarrhea in your dog.
  • Do not tether your dog outside for any longer than 10-15 minutes when the temperatures are below 32 degrees. The law states it is illegal to tether them for longer than 30 minutes in such temperatures.
  • Do not leave pets locked in cars during the extreme cold weather, as they can easily start to suffer the effects of hypothermia even though they are in the car.
  • Make sure to completely dry off your dog if they become wet for any reason, as a wet coat does not allow them to conserve heat normally.
  • If ice/snow balls accumulate on your dogs coat, please gently remove them to prevent frostbite setting in on the skin just under them.
  • If you are taking care of feral cat colonies, please make sure dry shelter is available to them and bring them fresh water a few times a day as water will freeze very quickly in these temperatures. Heated outdoor water bowls are a good idea for them as well.
  • For those who own livestock or horses, please check on them regularly. For horses, make sure their shelters are sturdy and properly bedded with straw. If automatic waterers are used, make sure they are working and do not freeze up. Often times fresh water needs to be brought out to them multiple times a day. Colic in horses is a very severe concern due to lack of adequate water intake. Horses should be monitored to make sure they do not need to have blankets put on during this weather.
  • Remember that in cold temperatures animals burn more calories to stay warm, so make sure pets and livestock are fed appropriately for the weather conditions.
  • Monitor your animals for any signs of early hypothermia (being listless, disorientated, uncontrolled shivering, etc.) and alert your veterinarian immediately if any of these conditions are seen.

“Cold related deaths of animals is something that is 100% preventable, so we urge everyone to take the proper precautions now for the health and well being of their animals,” Langlois said. “In addition, if you see any animal that is out in the elements not being properly cared for or in danger because of the cold, please contact your local law enforcement agency about it immediately so the situation can be corrected.”