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“He lost part of his ear:” WI Humane Society urges pet owners to be proactive against cold

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- The Wisconsin Humane Society would like to remind people who care for animals that this time of year may pose threats to their furry friends.

Dogs and cats can get frostbitten ears, nose and feet if left outside during bitter cold weather.



An adorable cat named Patches is the most recent patient treated for frostbite at the Wisconsin Humane Society. He was surrendered by his owner. Patches is now fully recovered and adopted out to a new family, but he's a reminder of how hard this weather can be.

"He lost part of his ear because of some pretty severe frostbite. He was treated here with some pain medication," said Angela Speed,  Wisconsin Humane Society.

The Wisconsin Humane Society doesn't see all that many cases of frostbite a year, but when they do, they often see them on cats. This is because their ears can be extremely sensitive.

"Basically the ear tips end up---they die , they fall off, they slough off. You`ll see a cat without the ear tips anymore," said Dr. Nancy Weiss, Wisconsin Humane Society.

Frostbitten paws are more rare. But when that happens, the animal will lose skin and form scar tissue. Since cats and dogs can't tell you what they're feeling, vets say it's up to you to see the signs of frostbite. They recommend feeling for cold tails, paws and ears -- because it's tough to see skin discoloration through their fur.

"Sometimes you don`t notice until 3-5 days later -- their ear tips might start to get a little bit stiff," said Dr. Weiss.

The Wisconsin Humane Society recommends that you thoroughly wipe off your dog's legs, feet and stomach when it comes in out of the rain, snow or ice. Salt and antifreeze can kill dogs, so it is very important that these harmful substances are wiped off before your dog has a chance to lick them off his or her own paws. The Wisconsin Humane Society sells booties that can be worn by dogs to help prevent salt and antifreeze from sticking to paw pads. Also, pay special attention to your canine’s paw pads. Snow and ice caught between the pads can make them bleed.

To prevent hypothermia, vets recommend cats stay indoors and dogs wear layers and even booties for walks -- all to retain body heat. Some products will also protect paws from drying out and cracking due to the cold. Temperatures in the teens can feel "normal" for southeast Wisconsin, but Human Society leaders say they are just as dangerous.

"When it's 10 degrees it still poses a significant risk -- it just might take a little longer for that frostbite to set in," said Speed.

For more information about the Wisconsin Humane Society, or to view a comprehensive list of animals currently available for adoption, please visit

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