Nebraska animal experts on how to keep your pets safe through extreme cold

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) — Extreme cold and blizzard conditions are in the forecast for Lincoln, and animal experts want to help keep your pets safe.

Lincoln Animal Control says the conditions pets could endure while outside this week and through the winter can cause frostbite and hypothermia, just like with people.

Experts say if it’s too cold outside for you, it’s probably too cold for your pets.

Matt Madcharo, executive director of the Capital Humane Society, said people should limit the amount of time their pets spend outside. That means only going out to use the bathroom and taking very brief walks.

“Just ’cause they have fur, doesn’t mean they’re more immune to the cold,” he said. “It’s not fun for any of us in the cold and the snow, and pets being outside can lead to a lot of different conditions, including hypothermia and frostbite.”

Madcharo said while some breeds of dogs do have thicker coats, any prolonged exposure is going to be tough for them to handle.

The humane society also wants to remind cat owners to check under their cars and even in the engine before starting the car, to ensure no critter is inside trying to warm up.

In addition, the pads on the bottom of your pet’s paws are very susceptible to the cold and can be irritated by some of the chemical agents used to de-ice sidewalks and streets.

Miquelle Levander of the Central Nebraska Humane Society suggests wiping their paws off or giving them a pair of boots to wear, as long as they fit properly.

“Boots are a good thing to have, and a type of coat or sweater for your short-haired dogs or your small dogs to keep the wind from getting to their skin,” she said. “But when we’re dealing with the temps like we are tomorrow (Thursday), there’s not a lot of walking that’s gonna be done. Trying to find ways to keep your dog stimulated and active in your home is gonna be key.”

Lincoln Animal Control said if an animal needs to be kept outside, make sure they have a shelter that keeps out the wind with clean bedding, preferably made of straw.

If your pet’s staying outdoors, make sure they have plenty of food and fresh water. Water bowls will freeze over, and it’s important to keep their water free of ice.

Steve Beal, manager of Animal Control, said keeping your pet well-groomed will help insulate your pets from the cold as well.

He said Animal Control will be looking into cases where owners leave their pets outside for too long or don’t give them the proper care against the cold.

“If an individual is not getting adequate veterinary care or taking proper precautions to get the animal out of the elements, we’re gonna investigate that as a possible animal neglect case,” Beal said.

Animal Control also recommends removing snow that’s piled high near fences, as a dog could use the drift to hop over and become lost.

When walking your dogs, make sure they’re on a leash. Animal Control said the cold can interfere with their senses, and they could get lost more easily, so keep collars and IDs on your pets through the winter.

If you’re traveling with your pet, don’t forget to get them out of the vehicle once you’ve arrived. It’s also not recommended to let dogs travel in a truck’s bed during cold conditions.

Lastly, if you think your animal may have frostbite or was hurt from the cold, give your veterinarian a call as soon as possible.

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