Washtenaw Veterinary Hospital
Focus On: Cold Weather Safety
Brrr, it's cold outside! This new year has brought some frigid weather and while we're thrilled to get a break from the insects and allergies, the cold comes with it's own set of issues. Here are some tips to keep your furry family members safe in this bitter winter weather.
1. Know their individual limits: every pet (just like each person) has a different cold tolerance depending on age, activity level, fat stores, fur coat, etc. Be aware of what your pet's tolerance level is and keep in mind that medical conditions like arthritis or certain metabolic issues can affect their temperature limits.
2. Provide choices: many cats and dogs will choose to stay inside when it's this cold and they will also vary their resting areas around the house based on their temperature preferences. Let cats stay inside if they choose and don't force your dog into outdoor exercise. Offer multiple resting options inside the house so they can adjust as needed. Remember cats and dogs are susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia like people so no pet should be left outside for long periods in below freezing temperatures.
3. Dress up and check paws: if your dog has a short coat or seems bothered by cold weather we recommend keeping them in dry sweaters or coats when they go outside. Many dogs also like booties to protect their feet from the ice and snow. If your dog doesn't wear boots be sure to check their paws for ice accumulation between the pads. Many dogs also get cracked paw pads this time of year and protective wax like Musher's Secret can help with this problem.
4. Wipe down after a walk: be sure to wipe your dog's paws, legs, and belly after any walks to get rid of toxic chemicals like deicers and antifreeze that they may have picked up. Consider using pet safe deicers on your property and clean up any antifreeze spills quickly.
5. Make noise before starting your car: a warm vehicle engine makes an appealing resting place for outdoor and feral cats but it's deadly if the car is turned on. Check under your car, bang on the hood, and honk the horn prior to starting your car to scare away any visitors.
6. Avoid ice: even with these extremely cold temperatures, it is important to avoid ponds, lakes, and other water sources when walking your dog. You don't know if the ice can support your dog's weight and falling through ice can be life-threatening.
If you need help determining your pet's individual cold tolerance or fitness for winter please schedule an appointment for a physical examination with one of our veterinarians. Keep an eye out for signs of hypothermia including shivering, anxiety, slowing down or not moving, and looking for warm places to burrow. If you suspect your pet is suffering from hypothermia or frostbite, seek veterinary assistance immediately.
Washtenaw Veterinary Hospital has always been open on two Saturdays each month but beginning in March, we will be open four Saturdays per month! We hope this will allow us to better accommodate our clients' busy schedules. WVH will be open from 9am to 1pm on Saturdays and we will continue to see patients by appointment only. Our upcoming Saturday hours, as well as any upcoming days that we will be closed are posted on our website.
In addition to our new Saturday hours, WVH can help accommodate your busy schedule with daycare appointments. Daycare appointments can be for wellness visits, lameness exams, imaging (like ultrasounds or x-rays), or sick pet appointments. All daycare appointments are scheduled for drop off between 8-9 am, Monday through Wednesday. Occasionally a daycare appointment can also be scheduled on a Thursday or Friday. These appointments allow our veterinarians plenty of time for their exam and diagnostics but you do not need to devote hours of your day to a veterinary visit. Be sure to request a daycare appointment for your pet's next visit if this is better for your schedule.
We would like to remind all of our clients that fecal testing is recommended at least once a year for both cats and dogs. Our pets are significantly more likely to harbor intestinal parasites than we are and fecal tests are an easy and non-invasive way to discover them. Intestinal parasites can cause a variety of problems from mild gastrointestinal upset to persistent diarrhea. Most parasites are easy to treat with oral medication and many Heartworm preventatives will deworm your pet once a month for the most common parasites. Our veterinarians recommend routine parasite screening annually but you should also bring a fecal sample to any visit where your cat or dog is vomiting or having loose stool. You can bring the sample in a bag but if you would like a fecal cup for collection we are happy to provide one for you at no charge.