Winter Emergencies and Your Pet

Please remember that the hazards of winter weather and cold temperatures affect your pet as much as they affect you. Make sure your emergency preparations include your beloved companion.

Thin Ice

Do not let dogs venture out on frozen water. While many dogs are strong swimmers, they can still be trapped by the ice if they fall through. If this does happen and you can rescue your dog from the water, here is how you can help him until he is under the care of a professional:

  1. If the dog is limp, unconscious, or unresponsive, but still breathing, wrap him in a towel. Keep his neck and back immobilized to avoid a spinal injury. Carefully place him on a flat board if possible before transporting him to the vet hospital.
  2. If a dog is not breathing, lay him flat on his right side. Make several quick compressions to his chest to expel water, then feel for the heartbeat just below his left elbow. If there is a heartbeat, but still no breathing, check for an obstruction in his throat visually and with a sweep of your finger. If you feel no obstruction, perform artificial respiration. Put the dog’s tongue in his mouth and close his muzzle by firmly encircling it with your hand. Then blow into his nose, adjusting the force of your breath with the size of the dog. Watch for his chest to rise and keep checking for a heartbeat.
  3. If you cannot feel a heartbeat, make one or two quick firm compressions on the chest wall with both palms flat on top of one another. Begin artificial respiration by blowing about 15 breaths, followed by a chest compression. Continue until either the heartbeat returns or emergency assistance takes over.

Even if your dog seems fine after being rescued from the water, he still needs to go to the vet to be monitored for injury, hypothermia, and stress or shock.

Power Outages

If you have a power outage, do not assume that your pets can adjust on their own. Many pets can sense your anxiety and stress, not to mention the cold and discomfort from not having heat and light.

In preparation for a power outage, make sure you have lots of bedding, old blankets, and towels handy for warmth. Have plenty of flashlights and (fresh) batteries available. During the emergency, be careful where you place lit candles and lamps: they should not be anywhere near your pets or where they can knock them over. If you are using a wood stove or artificial heat source, like a propane stove, be careful not to place pet beds, crates, or cages too close: your pet could overheat or be burned. Keep some Rescue Remedy (a calming, natural chemical) handy for your pet. Bach Flower Essence is a similar product found in most health food stores.

To keep your pet warm, comfortable, and calm, you can do the following.

  1. Put blankets around your pet’s favorite bed, cage, or crate. Obviously nothing with plastic should be used. Make sure your pet is able to get plenty of “fresh” air.
  2. If possible, make tepid water for drinking available.
  3. Brushing your pet will improve their circulation and help them keep warmer, and the human contact will help them feel more comfortable.
  4. If you sense your animal’s stress level is up, you can put a drop of Rescue Remedy in her drinking water or rub a drop on her ear or the blanket in her bed, as needed.

Please use similar wintertime precautions for the care your pet as you would for you and your human family.

PLEASE, DO NOT LEAVE CATS AND DOGS OUTDOORS. THEY CAN FREEZE OR GET LOST OR INJURED IF SUBJECTED TO COLD TEMPERATURES. WINDS AND PRECIPITATION CAN LEAD TO ILLNESS AND DEATH. IF YOU SEE AN ANIMAL LEFT OUTDOORS, PLEASE BECOME THAT ANIMAL’S ADVOCATE AND SPEAK TO THE OWNER. IF THAT FAILS TO IMPROVE THE SITUATION, CALL THE HUMANE SOCIETY HOTLINE AT 603-448-6668.