Pet owners are being encouraged to make sure their animals are safe in freezing weather.
“In the past two weeks, we've seen several cats come in with frostbitten ears,” said Pam Wiese, a spokeswoman for the Nebraska Humane Society. “Cats' ears are so delicate that they are very susceptible to freezing.”
Wiese said the feet of cats and dogs also are vulnerable to frostbite, especially when there is a covering of snow and ice on the ground. All pets should be brought inside while it's bitterly cold, she said.
A stray kitten about eight weeks old was found Monday outside a Millard Public Schools building near 139th and F Streets. Animal control officers picked up the stray, now named Jack Frost, and found that both his ears were badly frostbitten.
“He'll be OK with treatment, but those poor, little ears will always be deformed,” Wiese said. “Luckily, it was just the tips that were damaged, and Jack can still hear fine.”
Frostbitten skin is damaged by the loss of circulation from the cold, Wiese said. The skin typically will be pale to bluish-white in color and much cooler to the touch than surrounding skin.
If the circulation returns, the affected area will be red, swollen and painful, Wiese said.
Pet owners can treat their animals by returning circulation to the affected area. The area should be immersed in warm water for 15 to 30 minutes or a warm, moist towel should be applied to the skin.
Wiese cautioned pet owners not to rub the affected area, as that will cause more damage.