Protecting your pets during frigid temps

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People aren’t the only ones vulnerable in the dangerously cold temperatures.

With daily temperatures below zero, many of us try to limit our time outside, but for pets, how do we know when it’s too cold for them, too?

“Really anything below zero, I would not do anything outside for extended periods of time and then from above that, it might depend on breed and size,” said Veterinarian Ron Thunshelle.

The bigger the animal and the longer the fur the longer it can be outside. But despite their fur coats, like humans, pets are also at risk of getting frostbite.

“They’ll hold the foot up or if their ears are affected, they’ll shake their head and like people, it can take really a matter of minutes when it’s bitter cold,” Thunshelle said.

Ice melt on the roads can also give your pets sore paws or make them sick, so be sure to wipe their paws when you get inside.

For pets that may be outside year-round, they still need care when it’s cold.

“They need shelter and they need food and water. It would be advisable that shelters that they have, have some form of heat source,” he said.

Leaving your pet outside can not only lead to problems, it can also lead to trouble.

“It could be considered neglect or abuse. Neglect for your first offense in North Dakota is a misdemeanor, but then it becomes a felony for multiple offenses. Animal abuse is a felony and a warrant could be issued for your arrest and your dog could be seized,” Berthold Police Chief Al Schmidt said.

Berthold police have zero tolerance for abuse for people or animals, so Schmidt encourages people to speak up if they see animal cruelty.

“A lot of times our citizens are the ears and eyes for us and we can make more safe for individuals and their animals with teamwork from our citizens,” Schmidt said.

Thunshelle says people can exercise their pets in the winter by teaching them to walk on the treadmill, playing fetch indoors or taking them quick walks. He also wants people to remember to knock on the hood of their cars and beep the horn in case a cat is seeking shelter from the cold.

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