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For some, keeping your furry friends indoors or out is not an option - it’s the law. If you live in an apartment, especially in a big city, they stay in. And if you have a big backyard or live in the country they probably spend most of their time outdoors.

This is fine when the weather is balmy, but what do you do when it gets cold? Here are 10 Tips for keeping your pets dry, safe and warm when old man winter comes calling.


American Eskimo Dog Peary1. You might be surprised to learn your pet’s luxurious fur coat isn’t enough to protect it from freezing weather. Be a good Mom or Dad and provide your dog with a warm, dry, and draft free shelter outside. Be certain the shelter is the correct size for your pet - too large, and he’ll still be cold. Too small, and all of him won’t fit inside. Include a fitted, waterproof pad will keep your pets body off the cold ground, which will also help him stay warm. Many pet stores sell various styles of shelters, from columned mansions to igloos. Often they come with custom mats which fit the interiors perfectly.

2. Did you know your body uses more energy to keep itself warm in cold weather? Well, the same is true for your pet. G
ive Fido a bit more to eat than usual, making it easier for him to keep himself warm.

3. Oddly enough, indoor pets exercise less than usual in winter. Million of years of evolution and instinct tell them to conserve energy when it’s cold outside, even if they’ve never had a taste of freedom their whole lives. Therefore, feed them less than usual so they don’t develop that unsightly tummy-bulge like most of us people do, after holidays and cold conspire to keep us fat and happy.

4. Every one knows water is vital to your pet’s well-being in summer, but they still get thirsty in winter, so be certain your pet's water supply does not freeze. Either check frequently and replace the frozen water in the bowl as needed, or give yourself a break and purchase an electric, plug-in bowl, which keeps water liquid 24 hours a day. Just be sure to keep it full!

5. Frosty the Snowman might be cute as a button, but frostbite on your dog is anything but. Sure signs of trouble include firm, waxy skin, blisters, and even sores. Paws, tips of tails, and ears are especially susceptible, so you might want to add an extra waterproof blanket or two to your pet’s bed, for him to snuggle under. Alternately, some people prefer to purchase special booties, sweaters, coats and even hats to keep pets cozy and warm. Fortunately outdoor shelters don’t usually come outfitted with mirrors, so Fido, especially the macho types, can’t see how silly they look.

6. Although your garage might seem like a convenient solution to the outdoor-pet problem, wintertime chemical spills can mean death to your dog. Anti-freeze leaking from your car’s radiator looks particularly tempting and tastes sweet, but even the smallest sip can be fatal. If you even suspect your pet ingested some, do not hesitate. Take him to the vet immediately. By the time he becomes symptomatic, it may be too late. (To be on the safe side, look for automotive products that contain propylene glycol rather than ethylene glycol.)

7. Ditto with the dangerous chemicals Calcium Chloride or Sodium Chloride, which you might know better as salt. It’s same salt that trucks spray on roads and sidewalks in an effort to melt ice and snow - and the same salt can burn your pet’s delicate paws! To protect your pet's feet, try outfitting him with booties - if he’ll put up with it!

8. Although not as common with dogs as with cats, cold animals are likely to seek shelter wherever they can find it. So why not your nice, toasty warm car engine?  If Fido is nowhere in sight, or Kitty for that matter, check under the car or pound on it very loudly, just to be sure nobody is enjoying a long winter’s snooze under there.

9. Much as it’s fun to watch your dog playing in the snow, or slipping on the ice, you should never let him off the leash, especially during a snowstorm. In their excitement, dogs can lose their scent and easily become lost. More dogs are lost during the Winter than during any other season, so make sure yours always wears ID tags.

10. Finally, never ever leave your pet alone in a car or truck during cold weather for more than a few minutes. Contrary to what you might think, a vehicle can act as a refrigerator in the winter, holding in the cold and causing your pet to freeze to death. And the worst part is, it doesn’t take very long.

Download the ASPCA's PetWeather iPhone and Android App for free. The ASPCA's PetWeather App lets you know at a glance what kind of weather your furry friend can expect for your location, and will alert you if weather conditions make it uncomfortable or even dangerous for your pets to be outside.

There are many bedding options for pets, from the sublime to the ridiculous, believe me. Whether you’re shopping for your favorite little 5 pound gal, or your 100 pound manly macho man, there are more choices than you can imagine. Search around on the internet. You’ll have lots of fun, and surely find the perfect slumber perch for your beloved to enjoy his daily 13 hours of peaceful sleep.
www.Dishmag.com / Issue 143 - September 3097
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