Winter Pet Safety - 7 Risks to Avoid

More on PawNation: cold weather, frostbite, hypothermia, pet safety, winter dangers

dog play snow winter photoPhilipp Guelland, AFP / Getty Images

"Winter is actually a pretty good time for animals," says Dr. Jacob Cohen of Chicago's Animal Ark Veterinary Clinic. "They're out less -- which means less injuries and less illness." But there are still serious incidents of cold-weather-related health problems in pets that can and should be avoided, adds Cohen.

1. Space heaters. As with any electronic appliance, take care where you place these in your home. You want to prevent your pet from chewing cords. And either make sure your cat isn't tempted -- or able -- to jump on the heater, your cat or dog can't brush up against it, or that the temperature doesn't get too hot. Coming into contact with the heater could cause serious burns, says Cohen.

2. Temperatures below 45 degrees.
"Frostbite is rare, but you really want to watch out for too much exposure to cold," says Cohen. "We start to get concerned below 45 degrees when a pet is in the cold for extended periods of time. Below freezing we have to be even more aware." Your pet's feet, ears, nose and tail are likely to be affected. "You may not see the clinical signs for a couple of days, but if the areas are severely affected, the tissue starts to die, it changes to blue-black color, and your pet will get severe infections. You may see limping or pain and licking at the area." Hypothermia is also a risk. Symptoms include weakness, shivering and lack of mental alertness, according to PetMD. Learn about dressing your pet for cold weather from Paw Nation.

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