Vet urges owners to bring pets in during freezing weather

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - The freezing temperatures plaguing the Grand Strand and Pee Dee don't happen often, and while shipping family members out the door bundled up with scarves and gloves, don't forget about four-legged loved ones.

As temperatures plummet well below freezing Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, Matt Stone, a veterinarian at the Myrtle Beach Animal Hospital said pet owners should bring their animals inside Tuesday night and Wednesday morning. Owners may think pets are okay outside in the cold, but the reality is that animals in South Carolina aren't used to the cold just like humans aren't. Also, like humans, very young and very old animals are most susceptible to the cold.

"When you think of animals with fur, you think 'Oh, they're fine'... they're really not. Especially the old and young ones," said Stone. Dogs specifically are not equipped to handle freezing temperatures, particularly the smaller breeds.

Stone stressed it is vital to make sure pets have fresh water. In South Carolina, freezing temperatures aren't normally something to worry about, but tonight and tomorrow, water bowls are going to freeze over and pets shouldn't go all day without hydration.

A problem Stone said he sees is that cats will seek warmth by getting under vehicle hoods. Before starting the engine, thump the top of the hood and check underneath to make sure no furry felines are keeping warm there.

Also, keep antifreeze away from dogs and cats. Stone said both cats and dogs will drink antifreeze because it is sweet tasting, but it will give them kidney failure.

"A lot of animals down here aren't used to (the weather) just like we aren't," Stone continued. "And luckily, we don't have to deal with the cold too much. The biggest thing is we need them indoors if we can."

Lastly, Stone urged every pet owner to bring animals inside the house tonight. If you have an animal that absolutely cannot come inside, make sure they do have an insulated shelter. Put hay or old blankets inside. He says it is possible for pets to get hypothermia, and insulating shelters is the best way to prevent this.

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