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Keep pets safe during arctic blast

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The arctic air that is dumping snow on the Mid-West is heading for Pennsylvania, bringing with it arctic temperatures. Forecasters rarely agree on specifics but they are all reporting that this arctic front will bring temperatures that we have not seen in 20 years. And that cold will be here in the Lancaster area tonight.

The National Weather Service (NWS) is predicting temperatures in the Lancaster area to drop to about 29 by 5 p.m. Wind gusts today may be as high as 31 mph. Tonight, the cold really hits, with temperatures dropping to a low of three degrees. The wind chill values will make it feel like a negative 17. Tuesday will by mostly sunny but only barely in the double digits. The expected high is just 11 degrees. The wind chill values will be as low as a negative 18. Temperatures will drop again Tuesday night. The expected low will be one degree. The wind chill Tuesday night will be as low as a negative 11. Temperatures will warm up Wednesday.

The 2014 Farmers Almanac is predicating this winter to be cold, wet and white.

Pennsylvania Agriculture Secretary George Greig warns livestock and pet owners that these extreme low temperatures can cause cold stress. Animals – just like people – can suffer from hypothermia and frostbite.

“While it’s easy to think that dogs are immune to cold because of their fur, the fact is that more dogs perish in the winter than at any other time of the year,” said Joel Hersh, executive director of the Pennsylvania State Animal Response Team (PASART) in a recent press release.

PASART suggests puppies, small dogs, older dogs and cats should be brought inside whenever the temperature falls below 40 degrees. When you do take your dog out, wipe its feet afterward. The salt that is commonly used to melt the ice on our sidewalks is actually bad for dogs. If ingested, it can actually be toxic.

Just like dogs and cats should be brought inside the warm house, livestock should be moved inside as well if possible. The barn should have proper ventilation and protect the animals from the freezing temperatures and wind. Be sure your animals have clean dry bedding and change their water frequently. Do not use metal bowels for their water. Use plastic instead so the animal’s tongue does not get stuck.

Changing the water often prevents the standing water from freezing. The water can help pets and livestock prevent dehydration which in turn aids against hypothermia.

Be observant and watch your pets and livestock for signs of hypothermia. Signs to look for are shivering, lethargy, low heart rate and unresponsiveness.

“Owners must monitor their animals during these extreme temperatures, because livestock and pets can quickly become distressed,” said Greig in a recent press release. “If your animals exhibit unusual behaviors that could be related to cold stress, contact a veterinarian immediately.”

Greig also warns to never leave a pet in a parked car. A parked car amplifies the effects of cold weather. It essentially, acts as an icebox.

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