The Times West Virginian

January 23, 2013

Don’t forget pets during ongoing run of frigid weather

Times West Virginian

— Get used to the cold air, and maybe some snow, at least through the weekend.

Forecasters say cold weather will stick around through the weekend from the upper Midwest to the mid-Atlantic and New England.

“The air just north of the Great Lakes is colder than that over the North Pole,” AccuWeather expert senior meteorologist Henry Margusity said this week.

The cold and snow bring plenty of concerns, and one of them must be pets.

Consider these guidelines from the ASPCA:

• Keep your cat inside. Outdoors, felines can freeze, become lost or be stolen, injured or killed.

• During the winter, outdoor cats sometimes sleep under the hoods of cars. When the motor is started, the cat can be injured or killed by the fan belt. If there are outdoor cats in your area, bang loudly on the car hood before starting the engine to give the cat a chance to escape.

• Never let your dog off the leash on snow or ice, especially during a snowstorm. Dogs can lose their scent and easily become lost.

• Thoroughly wipe off your dog’s legs and stomach when he comes in out of the sleet, snow or ice. He can ingest salt, antifreeze or other potentially dangerous chemicals while licking his paws, and his paw pads may also bleed from snow or encrusted ice.

• A longer coat will provide your dog more warmth. When you bathe your dog in the colder months, be sure to completely dry him before taking him out for a walk. Own a short-haired breed? Consider getting him a coat or sweater with a high collar or turtleneck with coverage from the base of the tail to the belly.

• Never leave your dog or cat alone in a car during cold weather.

• If your dog is sensitive to the cold due to age, illness or breed type, take him outdoors only to relieve himself.

• If you dog spends a lot of time engaged in outdoor activities, increase his supply of food, particularly protein, to keep him and his fur in tip-top shape.

• Antifreeze is a lethal poison for dogs and cats. Be sure to thoroughly clean up any spills from your vehicle and watch for spills in you neighborhood, and consider using products that contain propylene glycol rather than ethylene glycol.

• Make sure your pet has a warm place to sleep, off the floor and away from all drafts. In the coldest of weather, bring even “outdoor” animals inside.

Even as the temperatures moderate just a bit Thursday and Friday, AccuWeather reports that the combination of lingering arctic air and two merging storms has the potential to spread snow and wintry mix from the Midwest to the East at the end of the week.

Its meteorologists also expect arctic air to return during early February.

We need to depend on each other to ensure we get through these upcoming weeks safely. It takes just moments to check on our relatives, friends and neighbors and offer a hand of assistance if needed.

Our pets, meanwhile, can’t ask for help. It’s something we need to offer willingly.