Frostbite a concern for people, pets during Guelph cold snap, experts say

Frostbite a concern for people, pets during Guelph cold snap, experts say

As Guelph digs out from Monday’s snow storm, a deep freeze is expected to settle in until at least Friday, according to Environment Canada.

With that comes a risk of frostbite, which can settle in quickly as windchill values dip to between -30 and -35.

Dr. Ian Digby, chief of the emergency department at Guelph General Hospital, says it only takes a short time for frostbite to settle in.

“It can ultimately freeze the water crystals within your tissues [and] will turn into ice,” he said in an interview on Tuesday.

Digby is urging anyone going outside to keep it brief, bundle up properly and make sure all exposed areas are covered.

In minor cases of frostbite, Dr. Digby recommends covering the exposed area with lukewarm water so it can gradually warm up.

More severe cases could call for a trip to the hospital or doctor’s office.

“If those tissues are turning discoloured, if they remain blue or darken-coloured after 20 or 30 minutes of warming, or there is severe pain associated with an exposed area, then that might require more aggressive treatment,” Dr. Digby said.

BELOW: How to prevent and treat frostbite

Pet owners should also take precaution during this arctic blast as the Guelph Humane Society is urging residents to keep their dogs and cats indoors.

“We want to limit time with our pets outside,” said Lisa Veit with the Humane Society.

She said dogs should be wearing some sort of cover while outside and owners really need to keep an eye on them for any worrisome signs.

“Watch for signs of cold stress, which often include dogs lifting up their paws or walking on three legs. They also might be shivering a bit or just looking rather uncomfortable,” Veit said, noting frostbite can usually occur on tails, ears and paws.

The Humane Society is also urging residents to keep cats inside, even if they are prone to going outdoors.

Anyone who sees an animal outside that is in distress is urged to call the Guelph Humane Society.

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