Protecting pets from eastern Iowa cold - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Protecting pets from eastern Iowa cold

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Animal experts recommend wiping off a dog's feet after it comes inside. Snow and salt can hurt the animal's paws. Animal experts recommend wiping off a dog's feet after it comes inside. Snow and salt can hurt the animal's paws.
DUBUQUE (KWWL) -

Animal experts can offer a wealth of information about protecting pets from the cold, but not all tips deal strictly with the outdoors.

Jane McCall is president and CEO of the Dubuque Regional Humane Society. She said one danger to pets may lurk in a family's garage.

"Antifreeze is poisonous to pets - both cats and dogs," McCall said. "It tastes sweet so they're very tempted to lick it up."

When temperatures are in the single digits, as they have been in Dubuque this week, experts suggest cutting walks short.

Alison Johnson is a veterinarian at PetMed Animal Health Center in Dubuque and stressed the importance of cleaning animals' paws right after they come inside since road salt can burn animals' exposed skin.

"Now that we're getting snow again, especially in the feet and the pads and in between there, where snow can pack in there and you don't even realize that it's there and it spends an extended period of time there, it can cause burning and frostbite," Johnson said.

She recommends checking the animal's pads and wiping its feet.

"It's really easy to just take a quick towel, get in between all the pads of the feet, get all that snow pack out of there and keep them dry," Johnson said.

Booties can protect animals' feet, and sweaters can help keep short-haired dogs warm, she said.

"The biggest cold-related issue we see is frostbite, and that's typically on the extremities," Johnson said.

When letting a dog out for its bathroom break in this cold weather, she recommends waiting by the door to let them back in.

"Whatever time it takes them to do what they need to do and come back, they generally want back in," Johnson said. "If your dog is one of those dogs and doesn't feel the pain right away, then you want to be standing there and, as soon as they're finished, you're getting them back inside."

Some animals spend longer periods of time outside and have an outdoor water bowl.

"When it's this cold, the water does freeze fast, so you'll need to replenish it a few times a day or get one of those water heaters," McCall said.

Animals in those situations need access to shelter too.

"If your dog is outside, the main thing that it needs is just some kind of shelter so it can get out of the wind," McCall said.

"Make sure that they have dry bedding" in that shelter, she added.

Generally, however, "any dog, at this temperature, should be outside for a very limited period of time and back in the door, because frostbite and things can occur within minutes," Johnson said.

McCall said the Dubuque Regional Humane Society receives about 350 reports per year of possible animal neglect or abuse. About one quarter of those, she estimated, are related to winter weather.

Pet-safe road salt is available, too. It is sold alongside most regular road salt.

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