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Protect Pets From Freezes And Wind
By Crystel Bailey
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- People would never send their family members out into the cold without a source of warmth and nourishment, and neglecting to provide for pets can be just as heartless.
"Animals need shelter from temperatures or wind chills below freezing. Bring them inside or put them in an insulated cover where the wind is blocked from all sides," said John Tyler, internal medicine specialist at Mississippi State University's College of Veterinary Medicine.
Tyler said short-haired dogs, house dogs and dogs not used to being outdoors need to be brought in sooner. Dogs who live outside or have longer hair can withstand cold temperatures in Mississippi, but need adequate shelter.
"Outdoor shelters in Mississippi are probably good for dogs used to being outside. Place a dog pen up against the house to allow heat from inside to warm the pen. Make their bedding out of straw to keep them warm. If there are multiple days of extreme coldness, put them inside the garage or house," Tyler said.
If bringing animals in from the cold, make sure there are no toxic chemicals such as ethylene glycol in antifreeze or rat poisons they can get to and swallow. Swallowing antifreeze will cause the kidneys to shut down within 24 hours and taking in enough rat poison can cause bleeding in the internal cavities.
"It takes more to kill a bigger animal, but regardless of the amount swallowed, take the animal to a veterinarian as soon as possible," Tyler said.
If time permits, induce vomiting right away by putting salt or hydrogen peroxide down the back of its throat. Depending on the type of poison swallowed, use over-the-counter agents such as syrup of ipecac.
"Don't waste much time trying to make them vomit if they swallowed antifreeze because most of it is absorbed after they swallow. Get them to a veterinarian immediately. Treatment for swallowing antifreeze is commonly successful if it is begun within eight to 12 hours after consumption. After that, there's not much hope for survival. Rat poison doesn't act as quicky," Tyler said.
Signs an animal has gotten into antifreeze include uncoordination, drunkeness, disorientation, stupor and increased thirst. Signs it has swallowed rat poison include a bloody nose, dark colored feces, red urine and bruising of the skin..
"The best method is prevention. Put poison out of reach even if you think it is well protected because they'll find a way to get it," Tyler said.
Besides deadly chemicals, car engines are a threat to animals who like to climb in them to keep warm.
"Cats should have access to indoors such as the garage to stay warm, but check the car engine for cats before starting it up," Tyler said.
Check at least twice daily to make sure cats and dogs' water is not freezing, or bring them in for water. Allow them to gain a few pounds during the winter months to give them energy and keep them warm.
"Animals have a higher metabolism in winter, so they need more food to provide them energy," Tyler said.
Released: Dec. 11, 2000
Contact: Dr. John Tyler, (662) 325-3432