Low temperatures can be a death sentence for pets left outside, says rescue agency – January 19, 2013

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Low temperatures can be a death sentence for pets left outside, says rescue agency

Saturday, January 19, 2013 5:42 PM EST

Of The Oakland Press

The 45-degree weather felt on Saturday was predicted to drop to as low as 18 degrees Sunday night, a forecast that could be fatal for animals left outside.

The Animal Care Network said on Saturday that its volunteers have recently found dogs and cats frozen to death in Pontiac and Inkster, the cities where the nonprofit works.

The nonprofit is encouraging anyone who keeps pets outdoors to bring them inside, and said cold temperatures, wind and precipitation can lead to illness, hypothermia and death for animals.

“Dogs and cats can suffer from frostbite in a matter of minutes, mainly on (their) feet, ears and tails,” longtime Animal Care Network volunteer Pam Porteous said in a statement.

“If you see a dog or cat in need of help, become that animal’s advocate. Speak with the owner, and if that fails to improve the situation, contact your local animal shelter, humane society or animal control office,” she said.

Dogs kept outside should be in a doghouse that’s not oversized, so the canine can retain body heat, Porteous said, and doghouses should be facing away from the wind, be elevated off the ground, filled with clean, dry straw and have a wind flap on the door.

Cats left outside can easily freeze and get lost or injured, Porteous said.

Pet owners should be mindful that water bowls freeze in cold weather, as do blankets and towels placed in a doghouse, she said.

Signs of mild hypothermia in dogs include excessive shivering, slow and shallow breathing, a slow heart rate, clumsiness, lack of coordination and lethargy.

Moderate to severe hypothermia occurs when a dog’s temperature falls below 95 degrees.

“In some cases, the dog’s eyes may become very dilated and fixed, and their gums may turn very pale or bluish in color. In extreme cases, the dog may collapse and/or enter into a coma,” Porteous said.

Hypothermia must be treated immediately, or a dog’s temperature may become so low that it cannot be reversed.

“Take the dog immediately to a veterinarian if you suspect (it) has severe hypothermia, or warming methods do not seem to be helping the dog,” Porteous said.

The Animal Care Network has rescued 13,000 dogs and cats since its inception in 1994.

Contact staff writer Dustin Blitchok at 248-745-4685 or dustin.blitchok@oakpress.com. Follow him on Twitter @SincerelyDustin.

URL: http://www.theoaklandpress.com/articles/2013/01/19/news/local_news/doc50fb20132bfa2819053333.prt

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