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Keep your pet safe and healthy in cold weather

If you are too cold to be outside without a coat, your dog probably is too. If your cat eats just one of your acetaminophen cold or flu pills, it could be fatal. Temperatures drop even in Florida, so here are some other basic cold-weather precautions. Associated Press

Keep your dog's coat longer for warmth. If you have a short-haired pet, get a coat or sweater with a high collar or turtleneck that covers it from the base of its tail to its belly.

Don't leave a pet unattended in a car. The vehicle can act like a refrigerator, holding in the cold and freezing your pet to death.

Pets are vulnerable to hypothermia and frostbite. Get your pet to a vet if it is shivering, disoriented and lethargic or if its hair is puffed out and standing on end. Frostbite can turn skin bright red, pale or black. Skin at the tips of ears and on extremities, including reproductive organs, is particularly at risk.

Keep pets away from medication commonly used during cold and flu season. Two hours after an average cat eats just one tablet containing 500 grams of acetaminophen, it may start having trouble breathing. In addition to gasping, other life-threatening signs include swollen face and paws, lethargy, and discolored gums. Dogs are less sensitive to acetaminophen because they tend to be bigger, but four or five of the pills eaten by a 50-pound dog can cause liver failure. If a dog eats your decongestant and it contains pseudoephedrine, the animal can experience a racing heart, tremors and even seizures.

Antifreeze can be fatal to a pet, even in small amounts. They will need immediate emergency care. Symptoms of antifreeze poisoning include drunklike behavior, vomiting, excessive urination, drinking and depression. Don't ever dump antifreeze on the ground, and store it away from pets. If there is a spill, wipe it up immediately.

Keep pets away from heating pads. They can get a shock from chewing on electric cords and can be poisoned by chewing on iron oxide pads.

Monitor older or sick pets that might be more sensitive to colder weather.

Never leave a portable heater unattended with pets around.

Sources: American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Colorado State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital, Humane Society of the United States, ASPCA's Animal Poison Control Center, Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Los Angeles shelter

Keep your pet safe and healthy in cold weather

01/23/12 [Last modified: Monday, January 23, 2012 11:24am]

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