Winter is in full swing and brings with it snow and ice. The colder temperatures keep a lot of people and pets indoors, but, eventually, some get cabin fever and have to explore.
Snow is safer to play in and walk on than ice. You can build a snowman, go snowshoeing, or make snow angels with your pets.
Ice, on the other hand, is dangerous. Not only is it slippery, but any body of water that has frozen over can break at any moment. That would result in a life-threatening situation for you or your pet.
Here are some helpful facts about ice
There are many factors that play into how strong and ‘safe’ ice is. When evaluating ice you need to look at the age and color of the ice, whether it is covered in snow, its thickness, and the temperature outside. Then once you assess all of that, you have to factor in the water current below and the size of the body of water. Now you see why ice is unpredictable and dangerous. Minnesota DNR and Canadian Red Cross provide in-depth safety tips to keep everyone safe on the ice.
1. Fresh, clear blue ice is the strongest. For depth, it needs to be at least 4 inches to walk on, but it not advised.
2. All ice is not the same thickness. No body of water will have a uniform sheet of ice. One area could be 6 inches deep, and then a few steps farther could be 2 inches.
3. Ice near the shore is not always the weakest, but it can be.
4. Snow adds weight to the ice and does not allow it to freeze properly. So if you see snow on ice, it is weaker and not able to hold as much weight.
During the winter, you have to be extra cautious, because dogs are curious and will follow a scent right into trouble. The best way to protect them is to keep them on a leash.
Hypothermia can occur quickly with the cold temperatures and freezing water. There are multiple signs of hypothermia. A few are paleness, shivering, lethargy, and frostbite. If not treated, it can lead to coma and heart attack. Refer to this list on PetMD if your dog has been submerged in cold water.
If your dog has been in extremely cold temperature or cold water and is showing signs of hyperthermia, you need to slowly raise his body temperature back to normal. Start with wrapping him in blankets. Then put hot water in a water bottle and wrap with a towel. Place the wrapped water bottle on the abdomen of your dog. Keep it there until his temperature rises. Use a thermometer every 10 minutes to check his temperature. Be sure to call your vet and give detailed notes on your dog’s condition.
The Fire Department of New York is asking everyone to stay off the ice as a safety precaution. This applies to everyone, no matter where you live. It doesn’t matter how cold it is out, ice is not made to hold the weight of an animal or person. FDNY states, “By venturing out onto frozen water, you risk not only your life but the lives of first responders.”
There are many brave men and women who come to the rescue of these animals, risking their own lives. If you find yourself or your pet is in trouble, call 911 and have professionals help. If you try to venture out on the ice, it could break and put both of you at risk of serious injury or death.
If you and your dog love winter and having excursions, be sure to take the necessary precautions to keep you both safe. Before you head out in the cold, dress appropriately. Depending on your dog and the length of time you are going to be out, Fido may need a sweater and boots too. If you see your dog holding his paw up, it means he needs boots if you are going for a walk. The snow gets between the paw pad and toes and freezes when temperatures dip near zero. If you are cold, then, more than likely, your dog is too. Keep your dog on a leash, and do not allow him to go on the ice, ever!
Andrea Powell is an animal enthusiast that resides in West Michigan. When not writing, she is exploring the great outdoors with her dogs and horses.
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