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Pets need special cold-weather care

Posted: Friday, October 19, 2001

When the snow and temperature begin to fall, people have the luxury of putting on a warm sweater, making a cup of hot coffee or turning up the heater to combat the cold. Pets, unlike people, are unable to stoke a fire or get an extra blanket from the closet when they get a chill. They must rely on their owners to keep them warm and healthy during the winter months.

Aside from being unprotected from cold conditions, the biggest threat to an animal's health and safety comes from dehydration.

"If animals get dehydrated, they're more susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia, just like people," said Jayne Hempstead, a veterinarian at Twin Cities Veterinary Clinic. "For dogs and cats, one of the things that is very important is to make sure they have water that is not frozen. If they are kept outside I like to see a heated water bowl or owners giving them fresh water a few times a day."

Frostbite and hypothermia are the main threats to animals during the winter. To protect a pet against frostbite, Hempstead recommends exercising common sense and monitoring the animal. For instance, outdoor dogs should be provided with a shelter that is out of the wind and off the ground

"Animals with short hair, thin hair coats or bald areas are more susceptible and need to be kept in a warm environment," she said. "Areas most likely to get frostbite that people can keep watch for are areas with less hair; tips of ears, the flank area and genital area, and extremities."

Animals display the same types of warning signs as people when they become hypothermic. Tim Bowser, a veterinarian at Soldotna Animal Hospital, recommends watching your pets carefully during the winter to make sure they are healthy.

"Sometimes they'll shiver, or just lethargy -- where they're not as active as usual -- or any big change in behavior I would pay attention to them then," Bowser said. "You need to gradually warm them up. The main thing is to get a blanket on them or put them inside and just gradually warm them up. You don't want to just put them in a hot water bath."

If an animal displays these warning signs, an owner can take its temperature to see if it is too cold. A normal body temperature for cats and dogs is between 100 and 102.5, Bowser said.

But as long as animals are cared for, frostbite isn't common. Frostbite occurs most often in working animals, like sled dogs, when a pet is abandoned or is without shelter and adequate water, Hempstead said.

Making sure pets are well fed can be important as well. A pet's diet does not necessarily need to change during the winter if it maintains adequate weight. The exceptions are animals that are going to need increased energy, like a dog that accompanies its owner on skiing trips or a sled dog, Hempstead said. In very cold temperatures the number of times a pet is fed could protect its health, even though the amount and type of food can stay the same.

"In extreme temperatures, feeding a pet more often in the day is beneficial," Hempstead said. "The digestive process keeps body temperature up for longer periods of time. Every time they ingest food it helps them keep their temperature level. So if you normally feed them once a day, split that and feed them once in the morning and once at night."

There is another serious wintertime threat to pet safety that results only indirectly from the cold. As the weather gets cooler, people tend to add antifreeze to their cars, which is extremely dangerous to pets.

"Most of the types of antifreeze used are very toxic to dogs and cats," Bowser said. "So I would warn people to be very careful not to spill or pool antifreeze on the ground where dogs and cats are, because it's very harmful. And it's sweet-tasting so they're attracted to it."

For more exotic animals, like birds, rodents, insects or reptiles, it is important to carefully maintain their environment, but no additional measures are needed to protect them during the winter, Bowser said.

Horses face the same types of challenges dogs and cats do in the winter -- keeping warm and keeping hydrated.

"Probably most important for horses is keeping their water available, because horses tend to be finicky about their water temperature," Hempstead said. "They may not drink if it's really cold, or if you only haul water out there a couple of times a day they may not drink enough before it freezes. So tank heaters or frequent offerings of fresh water are good."

Older horses or horses with thin hair coats or other health problems may need to be blanketed, but that is not always necessary if they have a place out of the wind, Hempstead said.

Horses without shelter can be susceptible to the cold if their coats get soaked. As with dogs and cats, keeping horses fed can help keep them warm.

"With horses, hay helps them keep their body temperature up, that's not really the case with grain," Hempstead said. "When digesting hay they increase their body heat. And they can eat a lot of hay and not risk having digestion problems, which can happen with grain. If you notice shivering, probably the best thing to do is to give them more hay. You don't necessarily have to blanket them unless that doesn't work."

Older animals, very young animals, animals with existing health problems and animals taking medication are more at risk of hypothermia and frostbite during the winter. Hempstead recommends that owners contact their veterinarians if their pets fall into one of these categories to find out if there's anything specific they should do for their animals.

Arthritis in pets tends to act up during the winter, and there are some medications that can help improve the animal's quality of life, Bowser said. He recommends paying close attention to the animal's condition and any changes in appetite, appearance or behavior.

tal structure, based in turn on molecular shape of the hydrogen and oxygen bonds in water. Ice, under high pressures or extremely cold temperatures, can take other shapes as well.

Individual snow crystals are transparent. But snow looks white because light gets scattered and reflected among the zillions of tiny surfaces. Since all colors from the visible light are scattered equally, the result looks white to us.

Is each snowflake really unique? According to scientists from Cal Tech who studied ice and snow crystals, a typical small snow crystal contains about 10,000,000,000,000,000,000 and passes through an array of environmental conditions during formation. They concluded the odds of any two being alike in nature are vanishingly small.

People classify snowflakes by shape. One of the commonest schemes defines the seven principal snow crystal types as: plates, stellar crystals, columns, needles, spatial dendrites, capped columns, and irregular forms.

The first known scientific writing about snow was done by Johannes Kepler in 1611. He was a German astronomer best known for being the first to discover planets have elliptical orbits.

Snowflake shapes depend on temperature. The classic six-pointed star with varying degrees of lacy complexity forms near 5 degrees. A few degrees colder or warmer, between about 3 to minus 8 and 10 to 14, and the crystals are flat, plate-like forms. Hollow hexagonal columns appear at temperatures between 21 and 14 and again when the temperature is minus 8 or lower. Six-sided needles appear at temperatures in the low twenties, and flat hexagonal plates show up nearer the freezing point.

Once snow is on the ground, water moves through it depending on the temperature. During cold weather, water sublimates from the insulated, warmer deep layers up to the surface and evaporates, leaving the deep snow more porous and weak. During thaws, water trickles downward and converts the deepest snow into icy kernels.

The Alaska atlas shows places named Snow Creek, Snow Dome, Snow Gulch, Snow Lake, Snow Mountain Gulch, Snow Passage, Snow River, Snow River Pass, Snow Top, Snow Tower, The Snow Towers, Snow White, Snowdrift Peak, Snowpatch Crag, Snowy Mountain and Snowy Peak. The Snow River is one of the sources of the Kenai River.

When snow does not melt during the summer, but continues to accumulate, it gives rise to glaciers.

CREDIT:Clarion file photo

CAPTION:Willow Hunter runs with her dog Snoopy during an outing on the beach last winter.

BYLINE1:By JENNY NEYMAN

BYLINE2:Peninsula Clarion

When the snow and temperature begin to fall, people have the luxury of putting on a warm sweater, making a cup of hot coffee or turning up the heater to combat the cold. Pets, unlike people, are unable to stoke a fire or get an extra blanket from the closet when they get a chill. They must rely on their owners to keep them warm and healthy during the winter months.

Aside from being unprotected from cold conditions, the biggest threat to an animal's health and safety comes from dehydration.

"If animals get dehydrated, they're more susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia, just like people," said Jayne Hempstead, a veterinarian at Twin Cities Veterinary Clinic. "For dogs and cats, one of the things that is very important is to make sure they have water that is not frozen. If they are kept outside I like to see a heated water bowl or owners giving them fresh water a few times a day."

Frostbite and hypothermia are the main threats to animals during the winter. To protect a pet against frostbite, Hempstead recommends exercising common sense and monitoring the animal. For instance, outdoor dogs should be provided with a shelter that is out of the wind and off the ground

"Animals with short hair, thin hair coats or bald areas are more susceptible and need to be kept in a warm environment," she said. "Areas most likely to get frostbite that people can keep watch for are areas with less hair; tips of ears, the flank area and genital area, and extremities."

Animals display the same types of warning signs as people when they become hypothermic. Tim Bowser, a veterinarian at Soldotna Animal Hospital, recommends watching your pets carefully during the winter to make sure they are healthy.

"Sometimes they'll shiver, or just lethargy -- where they're not as active as usual -- or any big change in behavior I would pay attention to them then," Bowser said. "You need to gradually warm them up. The main thing is to get a blanket on them or put them inside and just gradually warm them up. You don't want to just put them in a hot water bath."

If an animal displays these warning signs, an owner can take its temperature to see if it is too cold. A normal body temperature for cats and dogs is between 100 and 102.5, Bowser said.

But as long as animals are cared for, frostbite isn't common. Frostbite occurs most often in working animals, like sled dogs, when a pet is abandoned or is without shelter and adequate water, Hempstead said.

Making sure pets are well fed can be important as well. A pet's diet does not necessarily need to change during the winter if it maintains adequate weight. The exceptions are animals that are going to need increased energy, like a dog that accompanies its owner on skiing trips or a sled dog, Hempstead said. In very cold temperatures the number of times a pet is fed could protect its health, even though the amount and type of food can stay the same.

"In extreme temperatures, feeding a pet more often in the day is beneficial," Hempstead said. "The digestive process keeps body temperature up for longer periods of time. Every time they ingest food it helps them keep their temperature level. So if you normally feed them once a day, split that and feed them once in the morning and once at night."

There is another serious wintertime threat to pet safety that results only indirectly from the cold. As the weather gets cooler, people tend to add antifreeze to their cars, which is extremely dangerous to pets.

"Most of the types of antifreeze used are very toxic to dogs and cats," Bowser said. "So I would warn people to be very careful not to spill or pool antifreeze on the ground where dogs and cats are, because it's very harmful. And it's sweet-tasting so they're attracted to it."

For more exotic animals, like birds, rodents, insects or reptiles, it is important to carefully maintain their environment, but no additional measures are needed to protect them during the winter, Bowser said.

Horses face the same types of challenges dogs and cats do in the winter -- keeping warm and keeping hydrated.

"Probably most important for horses is keeping their water available, because horses tend to be finicky about their water temperature," Hempstead said. "They may not drink if it's really cold, or if you only haul water out there a couple of times a day they may not drink enough before it freezes. So tank heaters or frequent offerings of fresh water are good."

Older horses or horses with thin hair coats or other health problems may need to be blanketed, but that is not always necessary if they have a place out of the wind, Hempstead said.

Horses without shelter can be susceptible to the cold if their coats get soaked. As with dogs and cats, keeping horses fed can help keep them warm.

"With horses, hay helps them keep their body temperature up, that's not really the case with grain," Hempstead said. "When digesting hay they increase their body heat. And they can eat a lot of hay and not risk having digestion problems, which can happen with grain. If you notice shivering, probably the best thing to do is to give them more hay. You don't necessarily have to blanket them unless that doesn't work."

Older animals, very young animals, animals with existing health problems and animals taking medication are more at risk of hypothermia and frostbite during the winter. Hempstead recommends that owners contact their veterinarians if their pets fall into one of these categories to find out if there's anything specific they should do for their animals.

Arthritis in pets tends to act up during the winter, and there are some medications that can help improve the animal's quality of life, Bowser said. He recommends paying close attention to the animal's condition and any changes in appetite, appearance or behavior.

tal structure, based in turn on molecular shape of the hydrogen and oxygen bonds in water. Ice, under high pressures or extremely cold temperatures, can take other shapes as well.

Individual snow crystals are transparent. But snow looks white because light gets scattered and reflected among the zillions of tiny surfaces. Since all colors from the visible light are scattered equally, the result looks white to us.

Is each snowflake really unique? According to scientists from Cal Tech who studied ice and snow crystals, a typical small snow crystal contains about 10,000,000,000,000,000,000 and passes through an array of environmental conditions during formation. They concluded the odds of any two being alike in nature are vanishingly small.

People classify snowflakes by shape. One of the commonest schemes defines the seven principal snow crystal types as: plates, stellar crystals, columns, needles, spatial dendrites, capped columns, and irregular forms.

The first known scientific writing about snow was done by Johannes Kepler in 1611. He was a German astronomer best known for being the first to discover planets have elliptical orbits.

Snowflake shapes depend on temperature. The classic six-pointed star with varying degrees of lacy complexity forms near 5 degrees. A few degrees colder or warmer, between about 3 to minus 8 and 10 to 14, and the crystals are flat, plate-like forms. Hollow hexagonal columns appear at temperatures between 21 and 14 and again when the temperature is minus 8 or lower. Six-sided needles appear at temperatures in the low twenties, and flat hexagonal plates show up nearer the freezing point.

Once snow is on the ground, water moves through it depending on the temperature. During cold weather, water sublimates from the insulated, warmer deep layers up to the surface and evaporates, leaving the deep snow more porous and weak. During thaws, water trickles downward and converts the deepest snow into icy kernels.

The Alaska atlas shows places named Snow Creek, Snow Dome, Snow Gulch, Snow Lake, Snow Mountain Gulch, Snow Passage, Snow River, Snow River Pass, Snow Top, Snow Tower, The Snow Towers, Snow White, Snowdrift Peak, Snowpatch Crag, Snowy Mountain and Snowy Peak. The Snow River is one of the sources of the Kenai River.

When snow does not melt during the summer, but continues to accumulate, it gives rise to glaciers.

BYLINE1:By JENNY NEYMAN

BYLINE2:Peninsula Clarion

When the snow and temperature begin to fall, people have the luxury of putting on a warm sweater, making a cup of hot coffee or turning up the heater to combat the cold. Pets, unlike people, are unable to stoke a fire or get an extra blanket from the closet when they get a chill. They must rely on their owners to keep them warm and healthy during the winter months.

Aside from being unprotected from cold conditions, the biggest threat to an animal's health and safety comes from dehydration.

"If animals get dehydrated, they're more susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia, just like people," said Jayne Hempstead, a veterinarian at Twin Cities Veterinary Clinic. "For dogs and cats, one of the things that is very important is to make sure they have water that is not frozen. If they are kept outside I like to see a heated water bowl or owners giving them fresh water a few times a day."

Frostbite and hypothermia are the main threats to animals during the winter. To protect a pet against frostbite, Hempstead recommends exercising common sense and monitoring the animal. For instance, outdoor dogs should be provided with a shelter that is out of the wind and off the ground

"Animals with short hair, thin hair coats or bald areas are more susceptible and need to be kept in a warm environment," she said. "Areas most likely to get frostbite that people can keep watch for are areas with less hair; tips of ears, the flank area and genital area, and extremities."

Animals display the same types of warning signs as people when they become hypothermic. Tim Bowser, a veterinarian at Soldotna Animal Hospital, recommends watching your pets carefully during the winter to make sure they are healthy.

"Sometimes they'll shiver, or just lethargy -- where they're not as active as usual -- or any big change in behavior I would pay attention to them then," Bowser said. "You need to gradually warm them up. The main thing is to get a blanket on them or put them inside and just gradually warm them up. You don't want to just put them in a hot water bath."

If an animal displays these warning signs, an owner can take its temperature to see if it is too cold. A normal body temperature for cats and dogs is between 100 and 102.5, Bowser said.

But as long as animals are cared for, frostbite isn't common. Frostbite occurs most often in working animals, like sled dogs, when a pet is abandoned or is without shelter and adequate water, Hempstead said.

Making sure pets are well fed can be important as well. A pet's diet does not necessarily need to change during the winter if it maintains adequate weight. The exceptions are animals that are going to need increased energy, like a dog that accompanies its owner on skiing trips or a sled dog, Hempstead said. In very cold temperatures the number of times a pet is fed could protect its health, even though the amount and type of food can stay the same.

"In extreme temperatures, feeding a pet more often in the day is beneficial," Hempstead said. "The digestive process keeps body temperature up for longer periods of time. Every time they ingest food it helps them keep their temperature level. So if you normally feed them once a day, split that and feed them once in the morning and once at night."

There is another serious wintertime threat to pet safety that results only indirectly from the cold. As the weather gets cooler, people tend to add antifreeze to their cars, which is extremely dangerous to pets.

"Most of the types of antifreeze used are very toxic to dogs and cats," Bowser said. "So I would warn people to be very careful not to spill or pool antifreeze on the ground where dogs and cats are, because it's very harmful. And it's sweet-tasting so they're attracted to it."

For more exotic animals, like birds, rodents, insects or reptiles, it is important to carefully maintain their environment, but no additional measures are needed to protect them during the winter, Bowser said.

Horses face the same types of challenges dogs and cats do in the winter -- keeping warm and keeping hydrated.

"Probably most important for horses is keeping their water available, because horses tend to be finicky about their water temperature," Hempstead said. "They may not drink if it's really cold, or if you only haul water out there a couple of times a day they may not drink enough before it freezes. So tank heaters or frequent offerings of fresh water are good."

Older horses or horses with thin hair coats or other health problems may need to be blanketed, but that is not always necessary if they have a place out of the wind, Hempstead said.

Horses without shelter can be susceptible to the cold if their coats get soaked. As with dogs and cats, keeping horses fed can help keep them warm.

"With horses, hay helps them keep their body temperature up, that's not really the case with grain," Hempstead said. "When digesting hay they increase their body heat. And they can eat a lot of hay and not risk having digestion problems, which can happen with grain. If you notice shivering, probably the best thing to do is to give them more hay. You don't necessarily have to blanket them unless that doesn't work."

Older animals, very young animals, animals with existing health problems and animals taking medication are more at risk of hypothermia and frostbite during the winter. Hempstead recommends that owners contact their veterinarians if their pets fall into one of these categories to find out if there's anything specific they should do for their animals.

Arthritis in pets tends to act up during the winter, and there are some medications that can help improve the animal's quality of life, Bowser said. He recommends paying close attention to the animal's condition and any changes in appetite, appearance or behavior.

tal structure, based in turn on molecular shape of the hydrogen and oxygen bonds in water. Ice, under high pressures or extremely cold temperatures, can take other shapes as well.

Individual snow crystals are transparent. But snow looks white because light gets scattered and reflected among the zillions of tiny surfaces. Since all colors from the visible light are scattered equally, the result looks white to us.

Is each snowflake really unique? According to scientists from Cal Tech who studied ice and snow crystals, a typical small snow crystal contains about 10,000,000,000,000,000,000 and passes through an array of environmental conditions during formation. They concluded the odds of any two being alike in nature are vanishingly small.

People classify snowflakes by shape. One of the commonest schemes defines the seven principal snow crystal types as: plates, stellar crystals, columns, needles, spatial dendrites, capped columns, and irregular forms.

The first known scientific writing about snow was done by Johannes Kepler in 1611. He was a German astronomer best known for being the first to discover planets have elliptical orbits.

Snowflake shapes depend on temperature. The classic six-pointed star with varying degrees of lacy complexity forms near 5 degrees. A few degrees colder or warmer, between about 3 to minus 8 and 10 to 14, and the crystals are flat, plate-like forms. Hollow hexagonal columns appear at temperatures between 21 and 14 and again when the temperature is minus 8 or lower. Six-sided needles appear at temperatures in the low twenties, and flat hexagonal plates show up nearer the freezing point.

Once snow is on the ground, water moves through it depending on the temperature. During cold weather, water sublimates from the insulated, warmer deep layers up to the surface and evaporates, leaving the deep snow more porous and weak. During thaws, water trickles downward and converts the deepest snow into icy kernels.

The Alaska atlas shows places named Snow Creek, Snow Dome, Snow Gulch, Snow Lake, Snow Mountain Gulch, Snow Passage, Snow River, Snow River Pass, Snow Top, Snow Tower, The Snow Towers, Snow White, Snowdrift Peak, Snowpatch Crag, Snowy Mountain and Snowy Peak. The Snow River is one of the sources of the Kenai River.

When snow does not melt during the summer, but continues to accumulate, it gives rise to glaciers.



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