When Hannibal’s temperature drops below zero, as forecast in the next few days, “most dogs probably should be kept indoors, if possible,” said Dr. LeAnn Welch of the Hannibal Veterinary Clinic.
Some breeds of dogs will be okay in the cold, she said, such as Huskies.
However, “any kinds of dog with short hair and short legs don’t do as well out in the cold,” Welch cautioned.
“Short hairs are more prone to frostbite and hypothermia,” she said, explaining that frostbite is “hard to tell, but with hypothermia the dog will be lethargic, shivering and whining, not wanting to move around much.”
Can this be treated at home? “It depends on how far along it is,” Welch said. “If they bring them in, and they are trying to get warm and still lethargic and in pain, I would call your veterinarian. … It can be a life-threatening event.”
Do dogs need to wear a coat in sub-zero temps? Welch recommends that all dogs wear coats.
“If the owner is OK with putting a coat on a dog in this kind of weather, I would certainly do it. If they want to take them out for a walk, I would dress them up.
“Limit the walk, and when you bring them back inside, wipe off their paws and bellies,” Welch said. “Wipe off the salt from the roads. I recommend checking their paws and wiping them down.
“You don’t want them grooming themselves and licking that salt off the streets. That can be harmful.”
Ice is harmful, too, she added. “It can cut their paws. It is really hard on their pads, the ice. When you go for a walk, try to avoid ice as much as possible.”
Even if a dog lives outside, it needs good shelter, Welch said. “Make sure they have good shelter off the ground, some sort of walls out of the wind, and check their water often.
”Put in extra food for more calories,” she said. “It helps heat up their bodies.
“Even if the dog is used to being outside, they definitely need warm bedding of some sort – hay or straw - so they can regulate their body temperature and keep it normal.”
Water is vital, too, Welch said. “Make sure the water is not frozen. You have to check it quite often to make sure it is not frozen.”
Both Welch and Dr. Tom Dorsey of the clinic agreed pet owners need to take special care of their pets during extremely cold weather.
Page 2 of 2 - Asked if pets can be boarded at the clinic, 3301 Highway MM, until warmer weather, Dorsey said they may. “We have had people do that in the past. We do boarding, and we have runs that are enlarged areas.
“People want to be pro-active and make sure their animals are protected,” he said. The clinic is open from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. weekdays and 8 a.m. to noon Saturdays, when boarding may be scheduled.
Welch said dogs need special care, but cats that stay outdoors most of the time are more able to take care of themselves. However, “any cat that stays outdoors most of the time might go under the hood of a car.”
Check for this, she advised, by hitting the horn or hitting the hood, “to make sure there isn’t a little critter in there.”