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Pets well being in winter

Pets may love to frolic in the snow, but there are steps owners can take to safeguard them from winter weather.

Many people love the cold weather and snow and the same can be said for pets. Just as people prepare their homes and cars for winter, so should they keep their pets in mind when the mercury drops. Here are pet pointers for when the cold weather arrives.

•Cats are very susceptible to the cold and can freeze if left outdoors. Therefore, keep felines inside during especially cold weather. Also, stray cats have a tendency of hiding under car hoods to keep warm. Bang on the car before starting it to alert cats to get out so they don't get injured by the running motor.

•According to the ASPCA, more dogs are lost during the winter than during any other season. That's because they can easily lose their scent on snow-covered roads. Always keep a dog on a leash when out in the snow or ice and make sure ID tags are current.

•Salt-covered pavement and cold walkways can wreak havoc on dog paws. Blisters and cuts can occur from prolonged exposure. Wash your pet's paws after coming in from walks to remove salt and any crusted ice or snow. Consider putting protective booties on your pet to prevent his or her paws from coming in contact with salt and snow, or use a coating of petroleum jelly.

•Just as you shouldn't leave a dog or cat in a car in the summer for fear of overheating, the same should be said for leaving a pet in the car during the winter. A vehicle can act as a refrigerator and the pet may freeze to death.

•Despite their fur, some dogs feel the cold more than others. Short-haired breeds can benefit from a sweater. Don't shave long-coated dogs down to the skin during the winter to allow for more fur insulation.

•If you bathe your pet during the winter, make sure you dry him or her thoroughly, especially before going outside. This way he or she won't catch a chill

•Puppies and older dogs may be more sensitive to the cold. This can make housetraining difficult during these months. Be patient and consider paper-training for the time being. Older dogs already housebroken should be taken outside only briefly during cold spells to relieve themselves.

•Antifreeze is sweet-smelling to pets and can attract inquisitive animals. Antifreeze is a lethal poison for dogs and cats. Be sure to thoroughly clean up any spills from your vehicle, and consider using products that contain propylene glycol rather than ethylene glycol.

•Pets should have a cozy spot to sleep away from drafts and the cold floor. A blanket or filled pet bed can be comfortable. It is recommended that outdoor dogs be taken indoors during cold weather.

•Most pet birds are tropical varieties and will not tolerate drops in temperature. Keep bird cages away from drafty windows or doors that open frequently.

•Don't skimp on flea and tick protection even though it's winter. Warm indoor air can incubate flea eggs that are on a pet's coat and cause them to hatch.

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