Cold affects health for people, pets

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DECATUR, Ill. (WAND) – Extremely low temperatures can affect the healthh of humans and their pets, experts said.

Emergency workers at St. Mary’s Hospital in Decatur say, so far, they have not seen a significant increase in patients affected solely by the cold.

“It’s been more of the trips, slips and falls because of the ice that has not been able to be cleared,” explained Emergency Department Nurse Educator Michelle Bovyn.

Still, Bovyn said the bitter temperatures can cause serious health problems.

“People don’t realize that their body’s shutting itself off to keep the heat inside, so that means it’s clamping down on our veins, arteries, things like that, which can increase the risk of a heart attack,” Bovyn said, adding that people should not only protect themselves from the cold but should also check on neighbors and others.

Veterinarian Larry Baker of Northgate Pet Clinic said the cold can affect animals as well.

“What I see more than anything else would be frost-bitten ears, especially on dogs that have short hair,” Baker said. “We don’t see it commonly. I think most people have common sense and bring their dogs in at night or have insulated doghouses.”

Baker said larger dogs can handle cold better than small dogs, since they have more body mass per body surface area.

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