March 4, 2010— -- If this winter, with its bitterly cold days and record-setting snowfalls, has been cold for you, imagine how it might be for your pet.
The basic rule is if you're not comfortable in the cold, your pet probably isn't either, veterinarian Marty Becker said today on "Good Morning America."
The average core temperature for cats and dogs is about 100 to 102 degrees F. If the animals' temperatures fall any lower than that, they're at risk for hypothermia, Becker said.
When pets' core temperature falls below 90 to 99 degrees, they run the risk of mild hypothermia. The risk becomes moderate when the temperature drops to 82 degrees, and becomes severe when the temperature drops below 82 degrees, he said.
To protect them from hypothermia, some pets may need to wear protective gear when they're out in the cold for extended periods of time.
Frostbite commonly occurs in animals that have been exposed to sub-zero temperatures for a long time, Becker said.
Some breeds are more sensitive than others. Body parts that have little or no protection, such as the tail, scrotum, foot pads and tips of the ears, are most susceptible to frostbite, he said, adding that some breeds may be more sensitive to cold than others.
Becker suggested some products that can help people keep their pets warm and safe this winter.
The Dogloo is an igloo that dogs can duck into when it gets cold outside. It's built to stay stable in high winds, keep the rain out and promote good air circulation. It can be used year-round.
Suggested retail price: $109.08
Brinsea Products' KatKabin DezRez
If you're not home when the temperature drops, your outdoor cat can use the KatKabin. The outdoor cat shelter has good ventilation and insulated flooring to protect cat's paws from getting too cold. Your cat will be warm in the winter and can climb inside the shelter to stay cool in the summer.
Becker said it's really important that pets have a safe place to go when it gets cold. One place that definitely isn't safe is your car. The car can act as refrigerator, keeping in the cold. Animals can freeze to death if they're left inside cold cars, he said.
Suggested retail price: $149.00
Farm Innovators' Heated Pet Bowl
A bowl filled with frozen water is useless to your pet, Becker said. You can make sure that there's always drinkable water with this heated pet bowl. The model QT-1 can be set to operate only when necessary, has a chew-proof cord and uses just 25 watts of power.
Suggested price: $20.49
Most people will apply salt to their driveways and paths to prevent icing. But the chemicals in some of the salt products can be dangerous to pets, Becker said.
Not only can the products irritate a pet's skin, but, if pets lick their paws and ingest the chemicals, they can be poisoned, Becker said.
He recommended using a de-icer such as Safe Paw Ice Melter, which is pet-safe. It's 100 percent salt-free and safe for animals, people and the environment, he added.
This brand is recommended by veterinarians, groomers and humane societies.
Suggested retail price: $59.99
Becker added that antifreeze poses another significant danger to pets.
Antifreeze contains ethylene glycol -- which has an appealing smell and sweet flavor that can be tempting to pets. It's highly toxic, though, and even just a few teaspoons can critically endanger pets, Becker said.
He advised pet owners to make sure to clean up any antifreeze leaks from their cars.
Nooby's Disposable Dog Booties
When you can't control what's in the de-ice that's on the ground where your pet walks, you can protect the pet's paws from the cold and chemicals with Nooby's disposable booties. The booties are sold eight pairs to a box, are made of non-skid material and are further available in small, medium or large sizes.
Suggested retail price: $8.99
If booties aren't for your pet, try Musher's Secret. When it's applied, the wax cream forms a protective barrier that you can rub on paw pads and between pets' toes to protect them from salt, chemicals, ice and even hot summer pavement.
Suggested retail price: Three sizes retail from about $5 to $27.
Paw Clean Canine Footbath If your pet has playing outdoors in the snow or slush, Becker recommends the Paw Clean Canine Footbath to clean the animal's paws. You simply dip your pet's paw in the container, give the paw a quick swirl, and mud, ice, snow and de-icers are removed. Wipe the paw clean and dry with a microfiber towel that comes along with the kit. Your pet's paws will be clean – and your floors will be spared dirty paw prints.
Suggested retail price: $9.95
Click here to return to the "Good Morning America" Web site.