Bone-chilling temperatures a serious threat to pets

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Make plans for pets when the weather gets this cold.

This chill is just as dangerous to pets, as it is humans.

Veterinarians warn that dogs and cats, especially short-hair pets, can't tolerate subfreezing temperatures.

Fayetteville pet owner Delilia Morris says her two dogs enjoy a brisk afternoon walk, but not a bone chilling night.

"We bring them inside," Morris said. "When the sun goes down, we make sure they have a good place to sleep."

With overnight temperatures plummeting to well below freezing, the chill is especially tough on young, old and sick pets. Vets say this shivering cold blast, can quickly rob animals of body heat, and they can freeze to death.

"We see a lot of pit bulls in the area," said veterinarian Dr. Julie Jensen. "They have short-hair coats, so when they are left outside, they get cold and frostbite."

She says hypothermia is also a dangerous threat to dogs, cats, even horses and other livestock. If a pet has to stay outside, make sure it has some kind of warm and dry shelter such as a dog house or lean-to protected from the wind. If possible, let the pet spend the night in a garage or porch. Just make sure there is warm bedding and extra food and water."

They say if possible don't put the pet's food and water in outside metal bowls. They can't lap up frozen water, and the metal bowl can stick to their tongues.

Veterinarians say dogs and cats are just as vulnerable to wind chill as humans. Cats often will crawl under a vehicle and into the engine compartment to stay warm, so before starting their engines, motorist should thump on the hood a few times to scare off any animals that may be under the hood.

Vets say a good rule of thumb is if it's too cold for you outside, it's probably too cold for your pets as well.

"It's very difficult if they are left outside," Jensen said. "They are susceptible to the same things as humans, so when it's as cold as it is tonight, it's better to bring them inside if you can."

A final tip: Never let a pet lie near an electric or propane heater, as they could get burned or may get carbon monoxide poisoning.
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