Dec 10 2010 by Lizzie Smith, Kilmarnock Standard
AYRSHIRE dog owners are being warned about the dangers of letting their pets walk on frozen ponds or rivers.
Vets from the leading veterinary charity PDSA are urging owners to keep their dog on a leash and to stay away from frozen water, however safe looking, to prevent potentially fatal accidents.
Last winter, two dogs had to be dramatically rescued from the icy waters at Kilmarnock’s Dean Park. Sadly, one of the dogs died.
PDSA senior vet, Sean Wensley, said: “Every year there are terrible stories about pets, and owners, who die or suffer injury after falling in to icy water. So we’re reminding owners to keep their pets well away from frozen water and slippery banks.”
If a dog falls into freezing water, the plunging temperature will quickly bring on hypothermia.
Sean warned: “Seeing a pet struggling in cold water must be a terrifying experience for owners, but we urge them not to try to rescue their pets alone.
“This could result in them making a bad situation even worse, putting their life, and others, at risk.”
“No matter how well trained your dog is, accidents can happen, even more so during dark nights and bad weather. They can slip into frozen water or run in front of cars travelling on icy roads.
“Keeping them on a lead while outside will help prevent such accidents occurring.”
Sean also warns owners that pets which are outside in the cold weather for long spells can easily develop hypothermia and frostbite.
As with humans, shivering is the first sign that a pet is cold, but this can stop if the body temperature drops too low.
Pets can then become confused and subdued with pale or blue gums, and their breathing may become slow, shallow or irregular.
Sean said: “If you suspect your pet is suffering from hypothermia, make sure they are dry, then gradually raise their body temperature by placing them next to a hot water bottle wrapped in a towel, or by using a hair dryer on a low heat.
“Hypothermia can be fatal so don’t ignore potential signs and call your vet for further advice immediately.”