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Don't forget our furry friends!

January 24, 2013 - Taste Buds
Yes, it's cold outside, and we all know how to keep warm -- sweaters and coats, mittens and boots, and then a hot drink or bowl of soup to warm us when we come in from the cold air outside. However, let's not forget about our furry friends. There are some things to keep in mind regarding pet safety during the winter:

1. Make sure outdoor pets are protected from the elements with adequate shelter and insulation from the cold. In freezing weather, don't leave pets outside for long periods of time, as they, just like humans, can get frostbite and hypothermia. Also, arthritis tends to worsen in pets in cold environments.

Sometimes it may not be possible to bring your pets inside, so make sure they have a good set up to keep them as warm and protected as possible. Materials like straw and blankets will provide insulation. Don't use space heaters or heat lamps -- they could burn your pet or start a fire. Also, make sure your pet has plenty of fresh water.

2. Wipe your pets' feet. Snow and ice can get stuck in the fur between their pads, which can chap or cut your pets' paws. In addition, pets will want to lick at their paws, and if you applied salt or any other chemical to your sidewalk or driveway and your pet walked across it, your friend might ingest harmful chemicals. It's important to use a warm, wet washcloth to clean off your pets' feet when you bring him inside. You can also trim the hair between the pads to prevent ice and snow build up.

3. Winter is not the time for a short hair cut on your dog. Keep your dog's coat longer, because it will provide warmth. If you have a short haired breed, buy it a sweater to keep it warm. We love little dogs wearing turtlenecks -- adorable!

4. Cars are not a good place to leave your pet in the winter. We all know the dangers of leaving pets in cars during hot weather. But the same is true in cold weather. A car can act like a refrigerator and hold in the cold, causing your pet to freeze to death.

5. This is a little unnerving, but if you see a lot of stray cats in your area and you park your car outside, you should bang on the hood of your car before you start it. Cats can crawl up underneath car hoods for warmth -- banging on the hood gives it a chance to get out.

6. Beware of antifreeze! Pets love antifreeze because to them it tastes sweet. However, the chemical is lethal, so be sure to clean up any spills, especially if your pet sleeps in the garage. And, on that note, if your pet does sleep in the garage, do NOT start your car and let it run inside the garage -- carbon dioxide is colorless and odorless, and it can harm both you and your pets.

These tips were provided by the ASPCA, and there are many more tips available online. You should also make sure your pets' vaccinations are current, so when you are at the vet, you can ask him or her how they recommend keeping your best friends cozy during the winter. Fido and Fluffy will thank you!


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