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Pets Are Vulnerable During Freezing Weather

A picture of a dog standing in snow.
Poligraf Poligrafovich

Temperatures are holding steady at freezing and below. So animal advocates and veterinary professionals are urging owners not to leave pets outside if they can avoid it.

Triangle Veterinary Referral Hospital spokeswoman Sharon Ziegler says cold weather exacerbates health issues for animals.

"If you can, all pets should be kept inside, especially at night when these temperatures are getting down into the teens and single digits," says Ziegler. "If your pet must be outside then they absolutely need a warm, dry place to sleep at night."

Ziegler says fur should be de-matted but not shaven so the animal is better able to keep warm. And she adds that animals burn more calories trying to keep warm, so they should be given more food when temperatures drop.

Moreover, humans are often using antifreeze and ice melt chemicals, which can spill on driveways and sidewalks.

"Most ice melt products are mildly toxic if they're ingested, but they can cause irritation and even chemical burns on the feet. So, when people are walking their pet, they should bring them in, rinse their feet off, and then dry them thoroughly."

Ziedler says petroleum jelly can help protect paw pads.

Rebecca Martinez produces podcasts at WUNC. She’s been at the station since 2013, when she produced Morning Edition and reported for newscasts and radio features. Rebecca also serves on WUNC’s Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accountability (IDEA) Committee.
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