How to keep your pets safe in the extreme cold
Pets suffer frostbite and hypothermia just as humans do. Here are some tips for protecting them as temperatures plunge:
• Limit their time outside. Dogs, like humans, can experience hypothermia and frostbite, especially on earflaps and the tips of their tails.
• Take age, breed, coat and other factors into account. Pets with short hair -- or short legs -- get cold faster. Dogs with certain medical conditions, including diabetes and kidney disease, have more trouble with extreme temperatures, as do very young or elderly pets.
• Bundle them up. If your pet is uncomfortable in the cold, consider a sweater or dog coat. And if you try boots, make sure they fit properly.
• Keep your dog on a leash and avoid ice and frozen ponds.
• Be alert for signs of trouble -- anxiety, weakness, whining or looking for a place to burrow could be signs of hypothermia. Get pets inside, and contact your vet if you suspect hypothermia or frostbite.
• Wipe their paws, feet, legs and bellies when they come in. This not only helps remove ice and snow, but cleans off chemicals such as de-icers that can be toxic. Monitor their paws for injuries and ice between their toes. Keep the fur on their feet trimmed to prevent ice balls between toes and pads.
• Don't leave pets unattended in cars.
Sources: The Schaumburg-based American Veterinary Medical Association, the American Kennel Club and the Buddy Foundation