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December 8, 2010 / Dave Gorham

A Warm Pet Is a Happy, Healthy Pet—Winter Pet Safety Tips

We’re less than two weeks away from the first day of winter and already this week temperatures across parts of the Tennessee/Ohio Valley have been 20-25 degrees below average for this time of year. Temperatures are beginning to moderate today across the area, but with winter just around the corner we can expect to see more cold air making its way southward.

Long range models call for below normal-temperatures across the Great Lakes and much of the Northeast during the month of December. Temperatures over this region are forecast to average 1-2ºF below normal.

Below-normal temperatures are expected this month across the Northeast and eastern Canada. Image: ImpactWeather

 With all the holiday festivities coming up, things tend to get a little more crazy this time of year (well, for me at least) as we get preoccupied with multiple things like shopping, wrapping presents, cooking, cleaning and getting ready for out of town guests or traveling. However, if you’re a pet owner like me there’s one thing you can’t forget about and that’s your furry, four-legged friend. 

My dogs (Maggie on the left, Bonnie on the right). Photo: Lauren Whisenhunt

During the cold months, you have to make sure your pets have a warm place to go even when your house may be full of guests. Don’t think that all animals handle the cold in the same way. Some animals are able to handle colder weather better than others. For instance, Huskies will do better than smaller, short-haired dogs like Chihuahuas.

Huskies. Photo: Wikipedia

All pets need shelter during freezing weather and none should be left outside for long periods of time. Like us, they can suffer from hypothermia and frostbite. Puppies, short-nosed breeds and senior pets are especially at risk. If for some reason you have to leave them outside for a length of time, make sure they have a warm bed and a solid shelter they can go into that is protected from wind, rain and snow with plenty of food and water available. Bringing your pet indoors is always best.

When your pet needs to go outside to do their “business” stay outside with them. If you don’t have a fenced-in backyard, keep them on a leash (especially during a snow storm) as dogs can lose their scent and become lost. Be sure and wipe your dog’s legs and stomach off when they come inside out of the sleet, snow or ice. A lot of times they can ingest harmful substances they pick up on their paws like salt, antifreeze or other dangerous chemicals. Cats should be kept indoors during cold weather so they don’t freeze, run off, get sick or are killed. Felines do tend to curl up in various places to stay warm, even in car engines, so be extra careful. Make sure your pet has identification tags on at all times in case they do become lost so people will know they belong to someone and they will have a way to contact you.

A very inexpensive way to help safeguard against permanent loss of your pet. Image: beststitch.com

One of the things you can do for your pet to help keep them warm in the winter is to let their hair grow out longer. Don’t cut it so short during the fall months so when the winter arrives, their longer coat can keep them warmer. I know a lot of people who think dressing your dog in sweaters is ridiculous and they’d never do it, but for a smaller dog with a shorter coat it will keep them warmer especially when they’re outdoors. If they’ll let you put it on them and keep it on, I wouldn’t object to a sweater. However, if they’re putting up a fight it’s probably not worth it.

Of course the best scenario would be to keep or bring your furry friends inside during freezing weather so they can be warm and cozy like you.

Maggie. Photo: Lauren Whisenhunt

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