It’s official- winter has arrived here in Chicago and Jack Frost is settling in for a long stay. Whether you welcome the drop in temperatures or yearn for the balmy days of summer, one thing is for sure- bundling up and staying warm is imperative! And that includes keeping our furry friends warm and safe this season.
Jack Frost Biting At Your Nose!
We all love the videos of dogs jumping through the snow, appearing and disappearing as they gleefully bound through mounds of fluffy powder. Although many dogs love to play outside in the cold weather, there are certain breeds that need extra care when the winter months arrive. Smaller dogs and breeds with little or no hair should have sweaters and coats to keep their body temperatures up. Keeping them wrapped up can stave off hypothermia and prevent damage to the lining of the respiratory tract, a problem for pets with heart and lung diseases.
Prolonged exposure to the icy weather can also lead to frostbite, commonly characterized by red or gray tinged skin. Dogs typically get frostbite at the tips of their ears and tail. A dangerous mistake owners often make is to rub the affected skin but this can actually cause more damage. Instead, submerge the frostbitten area in warm water (not hot!!). However, it’s always best to have one of our veterinarians here at Blum Animal Hospital take a look at the affected area and asses the damage. With their trained eye, they can provide the best treatment to get you pet feeling better in no time.
Salt and Anti-Freeze- A Real Problem for Our Pets
Without salt and anti-freeze in the winter, Chicagoans would have real problems getting around. Unfortunately, these everyday items are very dangerous to our pets. When licked off or ingested, salt can cause inflammation of the mouth and GI tract. Salt is also an irritant to a dog’s paws and can lead to paw pads becoming raw and uncomfortable. It’s important to keep long hair between your dog’s paws trimmed- preventing the formation of ice balls which can lead to further paw discomfort. Wiping paws, legs and the underbelly of your pet after a walk is another best practice. If you notice your dog’s paw pads are looking irritated or raw, petroleum jelly or wax balms can be used to provide protection. Another alternative is to use a salt-free ice remover, sold as Safe Paw, which is made with pets in mind. Finally, wearing little booties is a fashion forward idea we certainly love but some dogs might disagree!
One of the deadliest problems with the cold is accidental ingestion of spilled anti-freeze. Because of its sweet taste, pets love the ethylene glycol found in anti-freeze, but consumption of even just a tiny amount can be fatal. Symptoms often resemble intoxication- stumbling and vomiting- but these symptoms can ultimately lead to kidney failure and sadly, death. Immediately call our team here at Blum Animal Hospital if you suspect your dog has ingested anti-freeze!
My Aching Bones!
Like humans, the cold and damp weather we have here in Chicago can bring on the pain of arthritis in our pets, most commonly seen in middle age to senior animals. As the temperature drops and snow starts falling, keep an eye on your dog and cat. Stiffness, trouble rising and difficulty walking up and down stairs are all indications that there could be joint problems. There are many treatments available to make your pet more comfortable if they struggle with arthritis- just schedule an appointment with one of our veterinarians and we can help ease the pain they might be feeling.
At Blum Animal Hospital, we know how much your pet means to you and our goal is to keep your dog and cat healthy and happy! If you have any questions or concerns about the health of your pet, always feel free to give us a call and our incredible team of veterinarians, technicians and trained team members will do everything possible to help you and your furry family member.
Written by Kimberly Cerny for Blum Animal Hospital