Protecting your pet from the cold

FAIRMONT, W.Va. (WDTV)-- "Once it drops below 32 degrees, we need to take precautions," said Scott Moore, D.V.M., with the Fairmont Veterinary Hospital.

That's the message veterinarians have for pet owners as the temperatures continue to drop.

Animals can easily develop frost bite and hypothermia just like us. If they must stay outside, you need to make sure they have the essentials.

"In cold temperatures like this their water freezes and then those animals become dehydrated and then it becomes a spiral of really bad circumstances. Make sure they have liquid water that they can access and make sure they have a good place out of the wind that is dry. Most animals will usually be able to survive with those basic fundamentals in place," said Moore.

Moore said he has dealt with several cases involving animals in the cold. One sticks out to him in particular, involving a Boxer with a thin hair coat who became dehydrated.

"On top of it, he was thin and didn't have a lot of fat so his body temperature dropped very quickly. In just a few hours he went from being up and mobile to being completely recumbent and hypothermic. Getting him in here and slowly warming him up with IV fluids, he rebounded nicely, but that's how quickly things can happen," said Moore.

Those at the Marion County Humane Society said they frequently receive calls about animals left in the cold.

"It's inhumane to keep them outside in this weather. Imagine a person being outside in this weather, imagine how an animal would feel in it," said Lauren Higginbotham.

When the forecast calls for snow, keep your furry friends away from the salt used to melt the ice.

"Not only if they walk on it can it hurt and crack their feet, but licking that salt off the sidewalk, those things can cause a lot of sickness," said Moore.

You also need to keep your pets away from anti-freeze as it can be dangerous if they digest it.

Some more tips include checking in and under your car before driving for outdoor cats who may be sleeping near the engine to keep warm. If the animal has to stay outside, increase their daily amount of food when it's cold.