Protecting pets: Tips for keeping animals safe during winter blast

Elisabeth Slay
The Shawnee News-Star
People are advised to take care of their animals and protect them from the cold.
Pet owners are encouraged to put sweaters on their thin coated animals.

As arctic weather continues to approach Pottawatomie County, pet owners are reminded to keep their animals safe from the negative impacts of the extreme cold.

According to Dr. Alex Simpson, veterinarian at the Shawnee Animal Hospital, there are various ways to keep animals protected from the weather.

"The biggest is to make sure you have proper wind block if you chose to leave your animal outside," Simpson said. "Make sure there's good bedding underneath the animal to keep them from getting colder."

In addition, Simpson said people need to make sure they provide enough food and water to their animals.

The veterinarian explained pet owners can find heated water bowls at places such as Atwoods and Tractor Supply, which help provide water to the animals and prevent it from freezing over.

"Make sure they have enough food (and water) for energy because they are going to shiver no matter what," Simpson said.

The veterinarian said health risks from the cold weather include increased problems with underlying health issues and hypothermia.

Simpson also said pet owners should take extra care to look after older and younger animals in the cold weather as they can't regulate their temperature normally.

"A dog and cat's normal temperature is 101.5, so if the (animals) are anywhere below 98 they need to get warmed up quickly or they're going to succumb to hypothermia," Simpson said.

Dr. Mariah Goodall, veterinarian at Northside Veterinary Hospital in Shawnee, said pet owners taking their inside animals outdoors during this winter weather need to wipe their paws and make sure thin-coated animals have some sort of warm covering on when outside.

"The salt and the different de-icers and stuff that we use can get caught up in their paw pads and cause irritation and burns, so that's important," Goodall said.

The veterinarian said dehydration is another common health issue that can occur when an animal is left out in the cold.

"In the cold weather you use a lot for moisture through your breath because the air is so dry and dehydration can set on pretty quickly," Goodall said. "Dogs and cats can actually get frost bite on the tips of their ears, their noses and anywhere that's not (hairy)."

Both Goodall and Simpson said that pet owners should call their veterinarian if their animals face any of these issues.

According to Kay Heinz, Animal Rescue of Shawnee (ARC) President, in addition to their pets, people are also encouraged to help any strays they may see.

Heinz said all the local rescues are full, but will try to help take in animals if they can.

"If you are not able to bring your pet inside, contact your local veterinarian clinic to see if they can provide boarding facilities," Heinz said.

The animal rescuer said the Northside Boarding Facility on 45th Street in Shawnee might board animals and can be reached at 405-273-3700.

In addition, Heinz said the LBSRSQ Foundation, originally known as Friends of Shawnee Animals, has received donations of dog houses and straw and will try to help with sheltering stray cats and dogs in Shawnee.

She said those interested can contact Trish Foreman at (405)-765-4585.

"The Shawnee Animal Shelter is full over capacity, (but) the shelter may be able to help you locate a dog house or crate," Heinz added.

If people do find a stray animal, Heinz encourages them to seek out their local SPCA office or visit okhumane.org for assistance.

Heniz said people can also contact ARC at (405) 431-9326 and leave a message about the stray they may have taken in during this winter storm.

"The rescues may not be able to take the stray right away, but will try to work with posting the pet or working with other rescues to rehouse (the animals)," Heinz said.

Check back for updates.