Cold weather threatens pets

By Meggan Gray – bio | email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Record low temperatures this week have people across the coast taking extra precautions.  Some are looking for a warm place to sleep. Others are making sure their plants and pipes are well protected from the freezing cold.

Leaders at the Humane Society of South Mississippi also want to make sure people don't forget about their pets.

"There's a common misperception that animals are okay outside," explained David Waltman, the director of the shelter's clinic. "You know, the truth is, animals are just as susceptible to hypothermia as we are."

David Waltman said a drastic change to our otherwise mild coastal climate can be a shock to an animal's system.  So when the temperature drops, as it has this week, it's time to take some steps to protect our four-legged friends.

"The first thing we advise is bring the pets inside. Get them out of the cold. If that's at all possible, that's the best thing for the pet."

Waltman admits, that may not always be possible.  So if you can't bring a pet indoors, you'll need to spruce up their surroundings.

"We ask that you at least provide them with adequate shelter and keep in mind you need to throw in a little extra insulation, some straw or blankets and things like that to help them keep the body heat in."

Extra food and water can also help pets stay warm. Waltman reminds owners to constantly check their pets' water, to make sure it isn't frozen.  But he said the biggest threat for our pets comes at night.

"If they're out in the sunlight, they may be okay. But once the sun goes down, then you definitely need to take steps to protect them."

Finally, keep an eye out for signs of hypothermia. Waltman said if your pet is constantly shivering or stops eating and drinking, that's cause for concern.

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