Avoiding Frostbite In Pets

By: Pam Wiese Email
By: Pam Wiese Email

Humans aren't the only ones feeling the outdoor chill. The Nebraska Humane Society reminds us to take steps to protect pets from frostbite.

Cold weather creates all sorts of hazards for pets. Cats and dogs do have some built-in protection from their coats, but paws and ears are especially susceptible to frostbite.

Cats’ ears are so delicate and have such thin hair that they are very susceptible to freezing. Paws are also vulnerable, especially when there is a covering of snow or ice on the ground. Ice can cut even the toughest hunting dogs' pads and snow build-up between pads can cause frostbite. That makes paws sore enough, but if you walk in an area where there is salt or chemical deicer, you can cause excruciating pain to your pet.

After going outside, make sure you check for ice build-up and do a paw wipe down. That will also keep your pet from cleaning their paws by licking them and ingesting any salt or ice melt chemicals.

Even big, dual-coated dogs that like the outdoors need to get out of the snow, especially on cold days when there is a wind chill. If they don't, their extremities can freeze. Blood flowing through the vessels provides heat to tissues, but when the wind chill is sub-zero the blood flow constricts to protect the heart and vital organs. Unfortunately, with less blood supply the paw and leg tissues can become very cold and even freeze resulting in amputation. The best way to avoid winter problems is to monitor your dogs’ outside activities and keep your cat inside.

The Nebraska Humane Society is located near North 90th and Fort streets in Omaha. It's open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekends and weekdays 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. You can always look up animals and find information at nehumanesociety.org.

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