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Bitter chill can present dangers for pets

Posted 2/3/23

The upcoming bitter cold this weekend is especially dangerous to dogs, cats and other pets, so the Oneida County Sheriff’s Office and the Central New York SPCA have some advice and tips.

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Bitter chill can present dangers for pets


The upcoming bitter cold this weekend is especially dangerous to dogs, cats and other pets, so the Oneida County Sheriff’s Office and the Central New York SPCA have some advice and tips for keeping your animals safe.

“This weekend is expected to bring some of the coldest temperatures and wind chills that we have not seen in a long time,” warned SPCA Chief Investigator Bill Pulaski. Temperatures are expected to dip down to double-digits below freezing on Friday and Saturday, according to weather forecasts.

“Pet owners need to always pay close attention to the weather, especially the cold temperatures. You have a responsibility to ensure that your pets are fed, always have clean water, and are warm. Pets are easily susceptible to injury and death if they are left to fend for themselves out in the cold.”

Keeping pets safe:

• Provide choices: Just like you, pets prefer comfortable sleeping places and may change their location based on their need for more or less warmth. Give them some safe options to allow them to vary their sleeping place to adjust to their needs.

• Stay inside: Cats and dogs should be kept inside during cold weather. It is a common belief that dogs and cats are more resistant than people are to cold weather because of their fur. Like people, cats and dogs are susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia and should be kept inside. Longer-haired and thick-coated dog breeds, such as huskies and other dogs bred for colder climates, are more tolerant of cold weather; but no pet should be left outside for long periods in below-freezing weather.

“Pets feel the cold much like we do,” said Oneida County Sheriff Robert Maciol.

“During frigid temperatures like we will see this coming weekend, people will want to cozy up inside where it’s warm, and although they cannot tell us, our pets want the same. It is a pet owner’s responsibility to make sure that they are safe and comfortable.”

• Check the paws: Check your dog’s paws frequently for signs of cold-weather injury or damage, such as cracked paw pads or bleeding. A sudden lameness may be due to an injury or may be due to ice accumulation between their toes.

• Clothing: If your dog has a short coat or seems bothered by the cold weather, consider a sweater or dog coat. Use a dry sweater or coat each time your dog goes outside. Wet sweaters or coats can actually make your dog colder.

• Wipe down: During walks, your dog’s feet, legs, and stomach may pick up de-icers, antifreeze, or other chemicals that could be toxic. When you get back inside, wipe down or wash your pet’s feet, legs, and stomach to remove these chemicals and reduce the risk that your dog will be poisoned after they lick them off of their feet or fur.

• Pet-proof: Use space heaters with caution around pets, because they can burn or they can be knocked over, potentially starting a fire.

• Avoid ice: Stay away from frozen ponds, lakes, and other water. You do not know if the ice will support your dog’s weight, and if your dog breaks through the ice it could be deadly. In addition, if this happens and you instinctively try to save your dog, both of your lives could be in jeopardy.

• Recognize problems: If your pet is whining, shivering, seems anxious, slows down or stops moving, seems weak, or starts looking for warm places to burrow, get them back inside quickly because they are showing signs of hypothermia. Frostbite is harder to detect, and may not be fully recognized until a few days after the damage is done. If you suspect your pet has hypothermia or frostbite, consult your veterinarian immediately.

And do not leave your pet unattended in a vehicle, officials said.


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