WACO, Texas — With temperatures plunging to well below freezing, pet owners are being asked to bring their animals inside.
"A lot of times when we start getting below like 45, we really need to start instituting more procedures for all dogs," Dr. Dennis Clark, Program Veterinarian with MCC Vet Tech Program, said.
While some pets may tolerate some cold, when temperatures are this low it's really not safe for any of them.
"You have certain breeds that have thicker hair coats like our Alaskan Malamutes or Saint Bernards," Dr. Clark said. "While they might have that thicker coat that insulates them more against the cold, they're not acclimated. There's things like their paw pads that can easily get frostbite."
Noses, stomachs, and ears can also get frostbite.
When animals go outside, limit time to no more than ten minutes because there is risk in even a long walk.
"If you are walking your dog outside and they've put out sand or salt, make sure you wash your pet's feet off when they come back in to get off that salt or sand that can cause irritation to your pets paw pads," Owner of Hewitt Veterinarian Hospital Dr. Kristin Dodson said.
If animals have to spend long periods outdoors, they must have adequate shelter. A dog house stuffed with straw, hay, or blankets can help keep them warm and protect against hypothermia.
"In the case of hypothermia, that can actually lead to death," Dr. Clark said. "That's our great worry that they can actually freeze to death in this type of temperature and environment if they're not used to it."
The Humane Society of Central Texas is handing out free hay to anyone who needs it. It's recommended to put at least six inches out for warmth or multiple blankets.