As the temps drop into the single digits and the wind chills drop to -20 F here in the Midwest, I thinks it’s time to talk about the effects of severe winter weather on you and your pets.
Some people think that because dogs and cats have fur, that they are not greatly effected by windchill. WRONG!!!
Frostbite is a very real danger for all living creatures. Frostbite is a condition that can occur in humans, our pets and all other animals on the face of the planet. Frostbite occurs as a result of exposure to freezing or subfreezing temperatures. At 1 degree below zero (Fahrenheit) with a sustained wind of 25 mph it only take 5 minutes to become frostbitten.
In humans it most commonly affects the extremities such as fingers, toes and ears. In dogs and cats, the tips of the ears, the tail, the scrotum, and the feet (especially the toes) are most at risk.
Frostbite occurs when a body part becomes very cold. When this happens, the blood vessels in that area become smaller to help the body conserve heat. But because the tissue then has much less of a blood supply it can eventually become as cold as the surrounding temperatures. If the tissue actually freezes, it will die.
The first signs of frostbite are a pale or gray in color in the skin or tissue. The area in question will be cold and hard to the touch. When the skin or tissue are warmed up the area will most likely become rosie red. In severe cases the exposed area will start to turn black in color. As the tissue warms, the frostbitten area becomes very painful.
In the case that you or your pet becomes frostbitten, you need to warm the area with slightly warm water. NEVER USE HOT WATER. The recommended water temperature is 100 to 105 degrees (F). Use a warm washcloth or hand towel or in the case of a hand or paw, soak the area in warm water. Do NOT use direct dry heat (heating pads or a hair dryer).Do not rub or massage the affected area.
After the area has been warmed to normal temperature dry it gently and thoroughly. Get medical assistance as soon as possible. In the case of pets, contact your veterinarian and have your pet examined immediately. DO NOT WAIT. Keep warm during the travel. A warm dry blanket can be used. Do not give any medication for pain unless you are instructed to do so. Many human pain relievers, including aspirin can be toxic to pets.
Winter weather is nothing to mes with, so be careful out there! Make sure you have a survival kit in your car. And don’t forget a big fluffy blanket for you and your dog to keep warm if your car stalls or get stuck in a show drift!