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South Queens Speaks: Beware of frostbite on your canine friends

Frostbite and hypothermia (dangerously low body temperature) go hand in hand. Boots and a coat or sweater protect pets against sub-zero temperatures, according to the Humane Society. Hypothermia can lead to unconsciousness, shock and possibly the death of a pet. The smaller breeds, such as poodles or dachshunds, are not as tolerant of the cold as larger breeds. Ice can form on a dog's body and limbs in less than an hour in sub-zero weather. Veterinarian Dr. Ira Buchalter, who owns Rockaway Veterinarian in Ozone Park, says that emergency medical care, depending on the severity of the frostbite, might be needed. "Oral antibiotics and cream may also be needed," Buchalter said. "Wrapping warm towels around your pet and massaging the affected areas help circulate blood flow and produce warmth." Dr. Buchalter said to check paws for small cuts and cracks and to watch out for salt and snow removal products, which can sting the pads of a dog's foot. Manhattan-based veterinarian Dr. Jill Elliot takes a more holistic approach when treating frostbite. She has introduced homeopathy into her practice, which is an alternative natural melange of treatments. "There are two homeopathic remedies I use in my practice to heal the extremities," she said. "One is called agaricus and the other is borax veneta. They both reduce the pain of frostbite and promote circulation." Some other tips from the American Kennel Club include: Do not leave your dog alone in a cold car; do not leave your dog outside for cold periods of time; apply petroleum jelly to soften the pads of the dog's feet and prevent cracking; and be extra careful when walking near frozen lakes, rivers or ponds. In addition, when you bathe your pet, be sure to dry his coat thoroughly before allowing him outside, according to the Kennel Club. Also, regular brushing keeps your dog's coat supple and prepared for the cold. Prevention is the best method to ward off frostbite by using boots for foot protection and keeping your pet warm with a coat. Dogs have fur coats, but they are accustomed to the warm shelter of the indoors. On a different winter note, the Ozone Park Civic Association held its annual Christmas party two weeks ago. Councilman Joseph Addabbo (D-Howard Beach) and Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer (D-Rockaway Beach) stopped by the civic to wish everyone happy holidays. Civic President Howard Kamph provided a large cold-cut spread with desserts. Ozone Park resident Grace D'Agostino, who represents Democratic District Leader Lew Simon, had a Christmas party at her home last week. Everyone filled up on hot Italian food and loads of pastries that were served, along with traditional eggnog. "We played games and handed out gifts from Santa," D'Agostino said. "Christmas means good times, family, friends and lots of food." Several other south Queens civics held holiday parties. It's the season of gatherings with family and friends, but it's also the season to gain 10-20 pounds. So watch out for the fruitcakes, puddings and eggnog.

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