CLINTON — As deep-freezing temperatures blanket the Gateway area, officials are urging residents to keep their pets inside and out of the cold.
Though thin-haired animals – like some breeds of cats, dachshunds and chihuahuas – are more susceptible to cold weather than larger, thicker-haired breeds, Jennifer Gerdes with the Clinton Humane Society says pets feel temperatures the same as humans do.
“If we’re uncomfortable being outside longer than five minutes, then assume they are uncomfortable being outside longer than that, too,” Gerdes said.
Gerdes also cautioned about toxins in salt. She said to wipe dogs' and other outdoor/indoor animals' paws after they have been outside. The salt acts as an intense irritant and will leave paw pads raw. Pet-safe winter salt is available in stores.
Brittney Moss, a vet tech with Clinton Veterinary Clinic, suggests sticking to short times outside and putting a sweater on “toy breeds” or animals with thin hair or fur.
A common injury seen during the season at the Clinton Vet Clinic is frostbite to the nose and face. Moss said it is important to watch for signs of this.
The Veterinary Centers of America reports that dogs are most likely to get frostbite on their ears, tail and paws. Wet or damp areas on a dog are more vulnerable to getting frostbite. Some signs include discoloration, skin that is cold or brittle to the touch, pain when touched, swelling, blisters or dead skin. These signs may take several days to appear.
Gerdes said dogs and cats kept in outdoor buildings must have a constant water supply. In cold temperatures, water will freeze. Gerdes urged bringing these animals indoors during the severe cold.
The city of Clinton's rules require adequate shelter as protection from hot and cold weather. An animal cannot be chained or tethered for more than 14 hours in a 24-hour period. The law states: “Chaining or tethering must be done in a manner to permit the animal to consume adequate food and adequate water and unlimited access to adequate shelter.”
More animals tend to be adopted at the humane society around Christmas time in any year, said Gerdes. She said currently, however, there has been an increase in pets being surrendered. She said people with furnace or pipe-freezing issues take their pets to the humane society.
“They’re worried about taking care of themselves and the pets on top of it,” Gerdes explained.
The humane society also receives a lot of telephone calls from people about what to do when finding a stray. The humane society has caretakers who live onsite. A buzzer at the front door alerts the caretakers and they will bring in the stray animal, day or night. If the caretakers are not available, call the city's non-emergency police telephone number for assistance at 243-1458.