The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Top Stories

January 2, 2014

Experts offer advice for protecting pets from cold, snow

With more snow and single-digit temperatures in the forecast, local veterinarians and animal shelters are urging pet owners to protect their furry little friends from the elements.

“People need to be really, really aware of how cold it actually is,” said Glenda Erwin, director of the Carthage Humane Society.

One common ailment seen during the winter among pets is frostbite on an animal’s ears, which can happen when temperatures drop below freezing, said Ben Leavens, a veterinarian and owner of Main Street Pet Care in Joplin. Owners often don’t know that their pet is suffering from frostbite until the ears scab over or start oozing, he said.

Leavens said he also sometimes treats dogs for hypothermia — a potentially fatal condition — after they have been outside in cold, rainy weather.

While most animals would be better off indoors, animals that are left outside, such as bigger dogs and dogs with thicker coats that can become acclimated to the cold, should still have a protected place with a wind block and warm bedding, Leavens said.

Owners can place small heaters in outdoor doghouses, although the doghouses should then be moved away from the owner’s house in case of a fire, he said. They also should frequently change their outdoor pet’s water or invest in a heated water bowl, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association.

Cats should remain indoors whenever possible, Leavens said. If they are left outdoors during the winter, they commonly seek heat from the warmth of a car, which can lead to them getting stuck in and killed by the fan belt or getting run over by the vehicle as they’re trying to get away, he said.

Leavens said there are some signs that pet owners should watch for in their pets. If a dog is shivering, it’s a sign that the animal is too cold, he said. Pets displaying heat-seeking behavior, such as tucking their limbs underneath them, could also be cold and should get to a warm place, he said.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals also suggests the following tips for pet care during winter:

• Bang loudly on the car hood or honk the horn before starting your car to give any cats that have sought heat from your vehicle a chance to escape.

• Never let your dog off its leash in the snow and ice. More dogs are lost during the winter than during any other season, in part because snow and ice can cause them to lose their scent and easily become disoriented.

• Thoroughly wipe your dog’s legs and stomach when it comes in from the sleet, snow or ice because it could otherwise ingest salt, antifreeze or other dangerous chemicals while licking its paws. The paw pads could also bleed from snow or encrusted ice.

• Never leave your pet alone in a car, which can act as a refrigerator in the winter and cause the animal to freeze to death.

• If your dog is active, increase its food supply to keep it and its fur strong and healthy.

• If your dog is sensitive to the cold because of age, size, illness or breed, take it outdoors only to relieve itself. Puppies, in particular, don’t tolerate the cold as well as adult dogs.

• Clean up any antifreeze spills from your vehicle, as it is a lethal poison to animals.

• Do not shave your dog down to the skin. Consider getting your dog a coat or sweater to keep it warm.

Local animal shelters also have their own set of needs during the winter, particularly the need for volunteers willing to brave the cold weather, said Lysa Boston, manager of the Joplin Humane Society.

“Unfortunately, not a lot of people think about coming out when it’s 12 degrees to walk a dog,” she said.

To combat the chill at the shelter, animals are given warm bedding to keep them off the concrete floor, and their food supply is increased, Boston said. Outdoor kennels are still accessible but are carefully kept to prevent cold air from getting inside the building, she said.

The number of animal adoptions and volunteer hours tends to slow during the winter at the Southeast Kansas Humane Society, said Erica Wilson, promotional director and business manager.

“We’re always in need of volunteers,” she said. “When it gets colder, people don’t really want to get out and walk the animals.”

Erwin, with the Carthage shelter, said extra blankets and towels are needed during cold months to keep the animals warm. The shelter also has taken in its share of lost animals during the snowy weather of the past month.

“When the weather changes, dogs and cats both sometimes get excited in the snow, and they get lost,” Erwin said. “And with it being so cold right now, owners worry about them.”



Preparedness

THE AMERICAN VETERINARY MEDICAL ASSOCIATION recommends that people include their pets when assembling emergency preparedness kits in case of severe winter weather or power outages. The group suggests keeping enough food, water and any medications for your pet to last at least five days.

1
Text Only
Top Stories
  • r041614giregabby.jpg SLIDE SHOW: Teen with cystic fibrosis finds widespread support

    When the Nevada Show Choir performs its spring show on stage, it’s impossible to pick out the student with cystic fibrosis because there are no outward clues.
    Gabby Gire, 18, is just another performer. She sings, she dances, she smiles for the audience.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo 1 Slideshow

  • 041914 Wedding1_72.jpg VIDEO: Cancer patient walks down aisle in wedding thrown by friends

    A year ago, Schandera Jordan was diagnosed with a rare form cervical cancer. And months after a radical hysterectomy, doctors confirmed the worst: The cancer had spread to her lungs and pancreas.

    April 19, 2014 2 Photos

  • Enrollment open for Joplin summer school

    Enrollment is now open for the Joplin school district’s summer school session, which will run Wednesday, June 4, though Tuesday, July 1.

    April 19, 2014

  • r041814capbus4.jpg Funding shortfall could hinder public transportation in Southeast Kansas

    For the past two years, Pittsburg State University sophomore Travis Cook has been using public transportation to get to and from his classes. He began using the bus his freshman year, when he didn’t have a vehicle to drive even to the grocery store — which is said to be the case for many who use the service.

    April 18, 2014 2 Photos

  • Bruner denied change of venue for murder trial

    Circuit Judge Gayle Crane has denied a change of venue for a defendant charged with fatally shooting an assistant football coach at Missouri Southern State University. The attorney for Jeffrey Bruner claimed pretrial publicity as the reason for seeking a change of venue in Jasper County Circuit Court.

    April 18, 2014

  • Russell family sues city, Joplin police

    Family members of a teenage girl whose suicide a year ago brought them into conflict with police officers and emergency medical technicians are suing the city and the Joplin Police Department. Kevin and Julissa Russell and their son, Brant Russell, are the plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed in Jasper County Circuit Court. The action filed on the Russells’ behalf by Kansas City attorney Andrew Protzman names the city, the Police Department and Officers Austin Wolf and Tyler Christensen as defendants.

    April 18, 2014

  • Kansas Regents stick with social media policy

    After directing a committee to study a controversial social media policy and make recommended changes, the Kansas Board of Regents appears to not be changing the policy at all. It’s left some in academia baffled by why it appointed the work group in the first place.

    April 18, 2014

  • Britain Easter Pilgri_Cast.jpg SLIDESHOW: Good Friday observances around the world Around the world, Christians are coming together in observance of Good Friday, which they believe was the day Jesus was crucified. Here are some photos from Good Friday commemorations around the world.

    April 18, 2014

  • Missouri House votes to expand sales tax exemptions

    Pizza parlors, doughnut shops and even convenience stores all could be in line for a tax break on the food that they make and sell as a result of a measure moving through the Missouri Legislature.

    April 18, 2014

  • 041714 School safe rooms4_72.jpg Joplin school district readies community safe rooms for storm season

    Thousands of Joplin residents will soon be able to stay safe during storms in some of the region’s newest shelters. Community safe rooms at Cecil Floyd, Stapleton, McKinley and Eastmorland elementary schools, which double as gymnasiums, and Junge Field, which will double as a field house, are expected to be open within the next few weeks, according to Mike Johnson, the school district’s director of construction.

    April 17, 2014 2 Photos