Pet Pal Tips For Winter

Winter has been extremely cold this year for the Northeast, and just as humans have to take precautions to stay warm, so do their pets.

The animal friends may be covered in fur, but they are still exposed to the harsh conditions of nature and the dangerous man-made products to combat it.

Veterinarian Jim Humphries visited The Early Show Friday to give Pet Pals tips to keep the furry friends safe during the weather only a polar bear could love.

Here are some of Humphries' winter care tips for your pets:

  1. Protect Your Pet From Burns: House fires are more likely to occur in winter. Pet owners should monitor wood stoves, space heaters and be especially cautious about cats around candles. Cats can run into fireplaces without screens. Humphries suggests including your pets in the fire evacuation plans. Place a fire sticker in a front window (ASPCA and fire departments have these in supply).
  2. Be Careful With Antifreeze: Antifreeze is toxic to pets and children. Very small amounts can be fatal. Keep all containers out of their reach. Clean any spilled antifreeze quickly. Humphries says even radiator leaks can cause a toxic problem. See the vet immediately if you suspect your pet has licked any antifreeze.
  3. Prevent Frostbite and Hypothermia: Frostbite is injury to tissue when a pet is exposed to low temperatures and winds for any length of time. Pets' ear tips, tails and paws are the most vulnerable to frostbite. The skin will be very cold and the pet would be in pain from the extreme cold. Also, low body temperature can occur when a pet is exposed to temperatures below freezing for prolonged periods. Pets will be lethargic and their gums will appear pale or even bluish in color.

    Humphries says a pet owner should warm the spot of frostbite slowly with warm water, stimulate circulation to the skin with towels and don't rub the tissues. See a vet for further treatment.

  4. Beep and Bang Your Car: In the winter, cats will find their way into the engine compartment of cars because it is warm. When you start the engine, they can be caught in the fan blades and belts and be severely injured. Humphries says to simply pound on the hood of the car a few times or beep your horn and wait a few seconds for a cat to escape.
  5. Keep Your Dog on a Leash: Humphries says dogs allowed to run free in a park could easily break through thin ice and fall in freezing water. This often causes the owner to head in next and a rescue team will have to save everyone.
  6. Protect Your Pet's Feet: Humphries says de-icing chemicals on sidewalks can accumulate on a pet's feet. If they lick these chemicals, it can cause severe stomach upset. Trim the hair between the pet's toes and wipe the feet off when finished walking, or use a petroleum jelly before the walk or buy some doggie booties.
  7. Carbon Monoxide Warning: Don't leave your dog in the car when it is running. If your dog lives in the garage, don't leave the car running to warm up in the garage. Humphries also suggests having all furnaces checked for proper functions and getting a carbon monoxide detector for your home.