Tips for caring for pets during winter's cold weather

February 5, 2013 

Baby it's cold outside.

During winter it's not a good idea to leave your pets outside for extended periods. Here are tips for keeping them safe this winter:

■ Some dog breeds handle the cold weather better than others. Puppies, elderly and sick dogs are more susceptible to the cold. Short-haired dogs might benefit from a jacket for their outdoor excursions.

■ Wipe your dog's feet and belly after walks to remove any ice melt or antifreeze, which is poisonous to dogs and cats, that they might have picked up outside. Check your dog's feet for cuts and scratches from the ice. (Morton makes a pet-safe ice melt called Morton Saf-T-Pet Ice Melt: Is a salt- and chloride-free, which is safer and less irritating for pets' paws and stomachs than traditional ice melt. Go to Mortonmelters.com to find retail locations.)

■ Make sure your pet has a warm place to sleep off the floor, such as a cozy bed or blanket. If you must leave your dog outside, try creating a cozy spot in the garage, or provide him with a dog house that is large enough for him to sit and turn around in but small enough to hold in his body heat. It should be raised off the ground, with lots of straw or cedar shavings. Turn the house away from the wind and have a waterproof flap on the door to help block the wind. Blankets can become damp, stiff and cold, so be sure to keep them clean. Heating pads made especially for pets are also available.

■ Make sure your pet has fresh, clean, "unfrozen" water to drink, and plenty of food to provide the extra calories they might need to stay warm.

■ Cats often will seek the warmth of a car engine and crawl up inside the car seeking the warmth. Be sure to bang on your car's hood before leaving for work or to do errands to give them a chance to escape.

■ Dogs can become disoriented in the snow and ice, losing their ability to smell and find their way home, so keep them on a leash in snowy conditions. And make sure your dog is wearing his ID tags.

Sources: ASPCA.org, anticruelty.org, dogchannel.com

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