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Protect your pets during cold temperatures

Bitterly cold temperatures are forecasted into Friday and will likely reappear throughout the winter. Iowa City Animal Services would like to remind the community that if temperatures are too cold for humans to be out in long, they're likely too cold for your pets, too.

If you're a pet owner, please consider these tips from the American Veterinary Medical Association:

Stay inside. Cats and dogs should be kept inside during cold weather. Cats and dogs are susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia and should be kept inside. Longer-haired and thick-coated dog breeds - such as huskies and other dogs bred for colder climates - are more tolerant of cold weather, but no pet should be left outside for long periods of time in below-freezing weather.

Provide shelter: If you must keep your pet outside for long periods of time, provide them with a warm, solid shelter against wind. Make sure that they have unlimited access to fresh, non-frozen water (by changing the water frequently or using a pet-safe, heated water bowl). The floor of the shelter should be off of the ground to minimize heat loss into the ground and the bedding should be thick, dry, and changed regularly to provide a warm and dry environment. The door to the shelter should be positioned away from prevailing winds. Space heaters and heat lamps should be avoided because of the risk of burns or fire. Heated pet mats should also be used with caution because they are still capable of causing burns.

Know the limits: A pet's tolerance for cold varies from animal to animal. Be aware of your pet's tolerance for cold and adjust accordingly, such as shortening your walks together.

Play dress-up: If your dog has a short coat or seems bothered by the cold weather, consider a sweater or dog coat. If you use booties to protect your dog's feet, make sure they fit properly.

Check the paws: Check your dog’s paws frequently for signs of cold-weather injury or damage, such as cracked paw pads or bleeding. During a walk, a sudden lameness may be due to an injury or may be due to ice accumulation between toes

Wipe down: During walks, your dog’s feet, legs and belly may pick up deicers, antifreeze, or other chemicals that could be toxic. When you get back inside, wipe down or wash your pet’s feet, legs and belly to remove these chemicals and reduce the risk that your dog will be poisoned after they lick them off of their feet or fur. Consider using pet-safe deicers on your property to protect your pets and the others in your neighborhood.

Recognize problems: If your pet is whining, shivering, seems anxious, slows down or stops moving, seems weak, or starts looking for warm places to burrow, get them back inside quickly because they are showing signs of hypothermia. Frostbite is harder to detect and may not be fully recognized until a few days after the damage is done. If you suspect your pet has hypothermia or frostbite, consult your veterinarian immediately.

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