By Sue Manning Associated Press
If you are too cold to be outside without a coat, your dog probably is too. If your cat eats just one of your acetaminophen cold or flu pills, it could be fatal.
Those are just a few of the tips experts offer to keep pets safe this winter.
Here are some other basic cold-weather precautions with pets from experts and animal welfare organizations:
•Keep your dog leashed in the snow and make sure it has an ID tag. Dogs can lose scents in snow and get lost.
Keep your dog’s coat longer for warmth. If you have a short-haired pet, get a coat or sweater with a high collar or turtleneck that covers it from the base of its tail to its belly.
Don’t leave a pet unattended in a car. The vehicle can act like a refrigerator, holding in the cold and freezing your pet to death.
Make sure your pet has a warm place to sleep, away from drafts and if possible, off the floor.
Outdoor cats and wildlife will often sleep under hoods of cars. Bang on the hood before starting the car to give the animal a chance to escape.
Pets, like people, are vulnerable to hypothermia and frostbite.
Get your pet to a vet if it is shivering, disoriented and lethargic or if its hair is puffed out and standing on end.
Frostbite can turn skin bright red, pale or black. Skin at the tips of ears and on extremities, including reproductive organs, are particularly at risk.
•Dogs kept outdoors should have a dry, draft-free doghouse big enough for the dog to sit and lie down in comfortably but small enough to hold its body heat. The floor should be a few inches off the ground and covered with cedar shavings or straw.
Use plastic food and water bowls instead of metal because your pet’s tongue can stick and freeze to metal.
Use pet-friendly versions of products that melt ice on steps, driveways and sidewalks.
Keep pets away from medication commonly used during cold and flu season.
Two hours after an average cat eats just one tablet containing 500 grams of acetaminophen, it may start having trouble breathing, have a swollen face and paws, lethargy, and discolored gums. See veterinary care immediately.
•Keep pets away from heating pads. They can get a shock from chewing on electric cords and can be poisoned by chewing on iron oxide pads.
Watch where you place baits and poison to kill rodents that find their way into homes to get warm in winter.
Brush your dog regularly because heaters dry the air and deplete moisture from your pet’s skin and fur.
Never leave a portable heater unattended with pets around.
Add a blanket to the pet portion of your family’s emergency preparedness kit.
Source: Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals