Vets: Keep animals - and yourselves - covered in the cold - KMSP-TV

Vets: Keep animals - and yourselves - covered in the cold

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

The frigid cold in Chicago is fit for neither man nor beast to be outside very long.

While some people still don't understand the importance of dressing for the weather, doctors, and vets hope people remember to dress themselves and their pets for the cold.

Chicago's top vet, Dr. Barbara Royal of Royal Treatment Veterinary Center, shared some pet safety advice as temperatures dropped to a record-breaking minus 16 degrees at O'Hare.

Dogs aren't meant to wear boots. But if they can tolerate them, those funny footings may be a good idea.

"As I was walking over here, I live about half mile away, he was struggling in the snow, thought boots would be good for him," dog owner, Rod Kobrosi said.

Vets say if boots aren't an option, wipe off your dog's feet to remove the salt and prevent irritation. Boots also protect from anti-freeze that may have leaked onto the streets and sidewalks they walk on. Anti-freeze tastes sweet, but it's lethal to pets.

Subzero temperatures are also a health threat to your pets.

"With the cold, it can actually cause hypothermia in them, and the other thing is if you have them out for a very long time, it can actually get frost bite in their ears and in their paws," Dr. Jessica Trice of Banfield Pet Hospital said.

Dr. Royal explained that small dogs, all animals really, should be kept inside when subzero temperatures hit the area. You should be out and back in as quickly as possible when they need to do their business outside.

If you keep your dog outside in a doghouse, don't mess around in temperatures like this. Just bring Fido inside. As for cats, keep them inside too!

Provide plenty of food and water for your pets, because it takes more energy for a pet to regulate its temperature in winter.

The same warning applies to people who ought to know how to dress, when the weather gets this cold or even worse expected. Emergency rooms see more patients than they care to because of frostbite and other injuries stemming from the bitter cold.

Doctors say fashion should not be the concern when the temperatures get this cold.

" If you're going outside probably the only thing that can't be covered are your eyeballs, but even that, if you can bring that scarf up as high up so you can still see, bring the hat as low down as you can still see…keep all skin covered," Loyola University Medical Center doctor, Mark Cichon said.

Frostbite can set in within a matter of minutes. The warning signs that you should get inside include numbness or tingling in your extremities, red, itchy skin with a hard or waxy appearance.

The best frostbite treatment is rapid warming with blankets and warm - not hot - water.

But if you prepared for the cold, according to Terry Ruggiero, it's tolerable. She was out walking her Great Pyrenees, Adelweis, on Friday.

"They herd the sheep and they're used to this, this is what they live for. [But still] we've got like four pairs of socks, three pairs of slacks, three sweat shirts, two hats, two gloves," Ruggiero said.

The bottom line is, the best way to avoid any cold related health issues is to stay indoors.

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