It might be hard to believe, but some people leave their companion animals outdoors all year long and in all kinds of weather. In the summer months, dogs and cats can easily become dehydrated and succumb to heat stroke. And in the winter, animals may get frostbite and die from exposure.
A veterinarian in Canada found a cat who had been outdoors in the freezing cold for so long that “[s]he lost all four feet, her tail and both ears” and “all the bones from her feet were gone.” It doesn’t get much more disturbing than that, does it? Well, as messed up as it is, cases like this are all too common. Check out what else can happen when animals are left outdoors in the cold:
A tiny kitten named Olaf nearly froze to death in Indianapolis. A kind person took him to a veterinary clinic, where he was treated and put up for adoption. He had such severe frostbite that he lost parts of three of his feet. One clinic worker said that the frostbite resembled a terrible burn that caused the tissue to die and fall off.
Like Olaf, Clyde was left outdoors in dangerous temperatures. He was found on a porch chair in New York, barely clinging to life. “He was very thin, very hypothermic,” a shelter worker said. Clyde received help just in time: According to shelter officials, he was unresponsive to light, touch, and sound, and his body had started to shut down by the time he arrived at the shelter.
A kitten named Elsa endured a similar ordeal. She was found frozen to a blanket on a windowsill in Utah. She was only about 8 weeks old.
In Boston, a cat was found suffering from such serious frostbite that one of her ears fell off while she was being transported to the animal shelter.
An adult cat and two kittens were found freezing outside in Saskatchewan, Canada. They had severe frostbite on their tails, ears, and hind legs. One of the kittens had to be euthanized because the injuries were so bad. The other kitten survived but had to have a portion of the tail amputated.
Cats and kittens have even been found covered in urine and almost frozen to death in snow banks.
What You Can Do
You can ensure that your companion animals don’t experience similar frigid fates by keeping them safe indoors. Be sure to clean off dogs’ legs, feet, and stomachs after walking on salt-treated sidewalks.
If you find a stray cat or dog, bring him or her indoors until you can find the guardian or take the animal to a shelter. If a stray seems unapproachable, call your local animal shelter for assistance.