KENNEWICK, Wash. — Action News spoke to a Kennewick veterinarian who says cold, wet fur is easy to spot, but what about dehydration and even urinary-tract issues (UTI)?
Dr. Lynn Harbinson with VCA Vineyard says pet-owners should take a few extra precautions if their four-legged-friends are spending any time outdoors right now.
"Most of our pets are soft, like we are,” she said. “They spend a lot of their time indoors and they go outside to use the bathroom, and come back in so you're going to want to check their paws because they can get ice between their toes; the ice-melt they can lick that off and it can be toxic to them."
Harbinson says owners need to make sure pets are well-hydrated, with fresh-water and an ice-free dish.
She says playing in the snow leads to panting and moisture loss, even if they're covered in snow, but because they don’t recognize the snow as frozen water they're not eating it to re-hydrate.
The veterinarian urges caution when using metal or glass bowls outside this time of year.
She says just like humans, your pet's tongue and whiskers could freeze to the bowl.
"For older animals, make sure they don't accidently get stuck outside," she sighed. "I've unfortunately seen some tragic times where either cats or dogs didn't realize how cold it was and then they got confused, or stuck somewhere. That can be very life-threatening for them."
Another issue to watch for: UTIs, something the vet says happens more often than you'd expect.
Harbinson says sometimes pets "hold it" as long as possible before going into the cold, but other times the issue was already there but becomes more obvious after it snows.
She warns pet -owners to watch for red or pink snow; anything other than yellow might signal disease or others issues.
If that's the case, the veterinarian says your pet needs to be seen.
She says pets like reptiles, birds and other pocket-sized friends are extra-sensitive to cold and warns against adjusting your thermostat too much without planning ahead.