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Winter Pet Protection Tips and Recommendations

 

We have had a lot of cold and snow in Chicago this winter. After all of this shoveling and heavy coats, the Law Offices of R.F. Wittmeyer, Ltd. is ready for spring. And although many of us know that we need to watch for summer dangers to our pets, we forget that our animals also feel the cold.

Even if we all want winter to end really soon, the groundhog may not be right – we still have at least another month of winter weather. And snow can sometimes fall in April! With the snow and the cold, some people think that their pets get to enjoy that weather due to their big, heavy fur coats. However, if you are cold, your pet is also cold!

Winter Weather Tips for Your Pets

Pets are just as likely to get frostbite and hypothermia as you. But it’s easy to protect them from the cold. Below are several tips to keep your best friend safe this winter.

Limit time outdoors

Even the biggest and furriest dog should not spend huge amounts of time outside in the winter. A thick coat does not protect all of their body parts, especially their paws, their nose, and their ears. First, never leave your pets outside alone, even if they roam outside during other seasons. Dogs loves their walks and exercise, but otherwise, they should stay inside. Even if you think your pet may tolerate cold weather better, if you do not want to be outside, don’t leave them out there.

Additionally, arthritic and elderly pets may have more difficulty walking on snow and ice and may be more prone to slipping and falling. Just as we worry about our elderly neighbors as they grab the shovel and go outside, please stay alert of your pets who may need extra care and patience on the ice.

Bundle Up and Wipe Down

Next, some dogs have short coats, especially short-haired and smaller dogs. If you have such a pet, consider putting on a dry sweater or coat when you take them for their walk. Additionally, older dogs and puppies may have stronger reactions to the cold.

Additionally, many sidewalks may have salts or other chemicals on them. Your pet’s paws and bellies can become coated in these chemicals, which will irritate their skin. Wipe down all of the paws with a damp towel before you pet licks them. You definitely do not want the salt in their mouths! At this time, also check your dog’s paws frequently for signs of cold-weather injury or damage, such as cracked paw pads or bleeding. Chemicals can get caught between their foot pads to cause severe pain as they burn the dog’s skin.

Lastly, if you use a de-icing treatment, consider using a pet-safe deicer that you can purchase at many pet stores.

Listen to Your Pet

Although they may not have a voice, your pet can tell you how they feel in different ways. For example, if you notice that your pet begins to whine or shiver, they should come inside. Signs of hypothermia for your pet is the same as they are for you. However, you may have trouble identifying frostbite. Either way, if your animal appears in pain due to any exposure to the cold, be safe and consult your veterinarian immediately. Damage may take a few days to show their true signs and a trained vet will help.

Protect Outdoor Pets

For example, if you have an outdoor cat, remember to provide them protection. They need extra food and water, so give them a hand.

Lastly, livestock have their own needs. If you have a horse, remember to provide them an area to escape from the wind and cold. Provide a lot of water and food during extreme cold as they will use this energy to stay warm. And a horse always loves to have a dry blanket placed on them.

Conclusion

Although winter may come to an end (hopefully!) soon, the cold air can stay in Arlington Heights for a long time. As you walk your dog around Lake Arlington or in Busse Woods this spring, if you have a coat on, consider protecting your dog. Even with the daffodils coming out of the ground, remember to keep everyone safe.

If you take these steps, your pets will enjoy the play and exercise but will also stay safe. However, you may also encounter pets that do not have owners who understand the dangers of the winter. If you see a pet outside too long, politely let the owner know about the risks and your concerns. Many people just do not understand how the cold affects their animals and need to know this information. Stay warm and enjoy the snow!

Light It Up…Safely – Fireworks Safety

In a few weeks, all over the Chicago suburbs, families and friends gather together to celebrate Independence Day. The Fourth of July celebration and festivities are always fun filled. We enjoy the colorful parades, hot barbecues, and spectacular fireworks shows. Of course, some risks exist with parades and barbecues. But fireworks safety needs a special focus.

According to the National Fire Protection Agency, 18,500 fireworks-related fires are reported each year, including 1,300 building fires, 300 automobile fires, and 16,900 outside and other fires. On average each year, fireworks are responsible for three deaths, 40 injuries, and $43 million in property damage. The NFPA reports that in 2015, 11,900 people were treated in the United States’s hospitals for fireworks-related injuries. Of those treated, 51% were injuries to limbs while 41% were injuries to the head.

The NFPA advises against buying and using consumer grade fireworks. Due to the risks associated with pyrotechnics as well as the quality of the fireworks, leave it to the professionals. Recently, a 15-year-old in Davenport, Iowa sustained injuries to his hand from consumer grade fireworks. The teenager headed to Peoria, Illinois for surgery on the hand. However, doctors had to amputate the hand.

Additionally, even the “safe” fireworks cause injuries. Many Americans buy sparklers and firecrackers. And while families, especially kids, love these products, many suffer burns. Sparklers burn hot enough to sustain third-degree burns. The NFPA reports that sparklers make up 25% of firework injuries treated in emergency rooms.

Fireworks Safety Tips

memorial day

With the approaching Fourth of July holiday, remember these fireworks safety tips.

Follow local firework laws and ordinances

While a rural town may have more lax fireworks safety ordinances, not all neighborhoods follow those same casual rules. Check your local community rules and regulations regarding the use of fireworks before purchasing and using fireworks. In Illinois, the Illinois’ Pyrotechnic Use Act bans the sale, possession, and use of those “consumer fireworks.” This includes bottle rockets, roman candles, and firecrackers.

Properly dispose of fireworks after use

If you seek to break Illinois law, please properly dispose of fireworks. Get the objects wet and place them in a metal trash can away from any buildings. Even if the firework does not launch, “duds” can still re-light. Be sure to never relight a “dud” firework. According to Davenport Fire Chief Lynn Washburn, “you just let it be and wait fifteen to twenty minutes and then put it in a bucket of water.”

Do not use consumer grade or homemade fireworks…but if you do, be smart.

According to NFPA’s Dan Doofus, do not use consumer fireworks because “they are too dangerous” and responsible most firework-related injuries. Additionally, avoid making your own homemade fireworks. Again, if you seek to break Illinois law, when using fireworks in a home or residential setting, read all of the directions on the packaging. Make sure the product is safe for use. However, as always, use caution and wear safety glasses to protect your eyes from any potential injuries.

Keep a close eye on children at firework events

According to the NFPA, most injuries affect children and teenagers. Be sure to monitor children in situations where fireworks are present. And remember to never give children fireworks!

Keep your pets safe from fireworks as well

Pets easily startled by the loud noises associated with fireworks. For this reason, do not bring your pets should to fireworks shows. Regardless of the size of the show, your pet could run away if it gets startled. Additionally, if you seek to break Illinois law and use fireworks at home, be sure to keep your pet inside in an interior room to keep the animal from hearing the loud, bombastic noises. In the event an animal does run away during a firework display after being startled, always make sure your pet has updated identification tags so others can return your pet to you.

Leave it to the firework experts, and go to a professional firework show

Most importantly, having your own firework display in Illinois is illegal.

In Arlington Heights, if you get caught with fireworks, in addition to potential injury, you will pay a fine. Additionally, the state can charge you with a misdemeanor and arrest you.

To ensure your safety and to stay within the boundaries of the law, leave the firework shows to the professionals. Removing the hazardous element to your Fourth of July celebration allows you and your family to enjoy the holiday with any added risks.

Happy Fourth of July from all of us at R.F. Wittmeyer!

Pet Safety Tips – Summer

As temperatures rise, it is crucial for our awareness of pet safety to rise as well. Residents of Illinois are required to give their pets adequate protection from weather under the Illinois Humane Care for Animals Act. This includes requiring pet owners to provide their animals protection from extreme heat or extreme cold.

So, what do you do if you see an animal in distress during a hot summer day inside a vehicle? Can you act in response to a fear of a disregard of pet safety? As an Illinois resident you are NOT allowed to take matters into your own hands and rescue an animal. However, if you are concerned with an action that jeopardizes pet safety, you may call an animal control officer, law enforcement officer, or Department investigator. Each of these officials must first try to locate the owner of the vehicle or another person responsible. If they are unable to locate anyone then they do have the authority to enter the vehicle by any reasonable means under the circumstances. [Read more…]

About the Firm


Ronald F. Wittmeyer, Jr. practices plaintiffs' personal injury law at his office in Arlington Heights, Illinois.

About Ron

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