B y Linda Ellingsworth
Larry Carman, Dog Control Officer for the town of Hampton, is reminding all pet owners to take extra care with their dogs and cats during the extreme cold temperatures the area has experienced recently.
“Dogs should not be out for any extended period of time in this weather,” Carman said. “We recommend that they be brought inside at least during the night time. They should be provided with adequate shelter.”
Carman said that a proper shelter will include a dog house big enough for the dog to stand up in and allow the dog to stretch out, but should not be oversized so the dog can retain body heat. A house should also have a wind flap on the door, he noted, as well as nonporous bedding such as straw. Access to unfrozen water is also critical.
Carman noted that frostbite can present itself in cats and dogs, most likely in their paws or on tips of the ears. Cats also should not be left outside, he said. Even barn cats should have a place to stay that is warm and comfortable.
“They’re not wild animals anymore,” he said. “People should watch their dogs and cats in this extreme weather.”
The American Kennel Club cautions that owners should be extra careful when walking their dog near frozen lakes, rivers or ponds. Not only could dogs slip and get injured, they also could fall through the ice.
Regular grooming helps a dog’s coat retain its insulating properties, says the American Kennel Club (AKC). Small dogs or short-haired dogs will likely need a coat in extreme cold temperatures. Long-haired dogs should have the excess hair around their toes trimmed for ease of snow removal and cleaning.
Rock salt is an irritant to a dog’s foot pads, says the AKC, so it is important to rinse and dry your dog’s feet after a walk. Also, check garage floors for pooled antifreeze, which smells and tastes good to dogs but can be lethal if ingested.
If you see a dog in need of a friend or help, Carman suggests becoming the dog’s advocate. Talk to the owner and try to improve the situation. If that does not work, contact your local dog control officer if you believe the dog is in danger.
Carman said the town of Hampton has not received any complaints so far this year of dogs being left out in extreme cold. For more information, contact Larry Carman at 518-926-9753. More information about keeping pets safe in cold weather can be found at www.akc.org/public_education/winter_care.cfm and http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/cold-weather-tips.