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What has been a pretty mild winter so far for much of the country is now changing.
Cold air is blasting south from the Artic. Much colder than average temperatures are predicted for large portions of the country. At least through mid-February.
We all know to grab a heavy coat, hat and gloves when we head out the door. But what about our pets?
Dogs and other animals that go outside need to be protected from the elements as much as we do. And it’s up to us to make sure they get the warmth they need to survive.
Keep pets indoors during extreme cold
According to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), 40 cold weather-related companion animal deaths occurred in the U.S. last winter.
They say that’s just the tip of the iceberg because a vast majority of these types of deaths go unreported.
And many animals suffer frostbite, hypothermia and dehydration when their owners are not careful with them.
Too many people keep dogs outside, even when it gets very cold. Don’t be one of them. And if you see an animal that looks like it needs to get indoors this winter, alert authorities immediately.
10 helpful tips
Here are a few more tips:

  • Wipe your pets’ paws when you bring them back inside. They could have small ice particles between their footpads that should be removed. They could also have picked up toxic chemicals while they were out, such as salt and antifreeze. You don’t want them licking those chemicals.
  • Keep your pets leashed when outside. It’s easier for a dog or cat to get lost in the winter because cold and snow can disguise scents that normally help them find their way home.
  • Leave pets at home when you go out. Cold cars can be as dangerous as hot cars when pets are left unattended for a period of time.
  • Don’t shave your pets during the winter. Some animals need to be shaved periodically due to uncontrollable mats. But be sure to time those shavings so your pets have longer hair during colder months.
  • Don’t bathe them as often during the winter. Bathing can remove essential oils they need. As well as putting them at risk of dry and flaky skin.
  • Feed them a little more than usual in the winter. While you don’t want your pets to get overweight, you might want to feed them a little more in the winter than in warmer months. The extra calories will help them stay warmer and plenty of water will help them stay hydrated in a heated home.
  • If you have an antifreeze spill – inside or outside the home – clean it up as quickly and thoroughly as possible. Antifreeze has a sweet taste that could attract animals, but it’s poisonous.
  • Before you start your car on a cold morning, bang on the hood a couple of times. If a cat or another animal has taken shelter in a wheelbase or under the hood, that noise and vibration should cause them to scamper before they get injured when you start or move your car.
  • Have an emergency plan in place that includes your pets’ wellbeing. If your power goes out and you need to evacuate, know ahead of time which area hotels accept pets.
  • This tip is important year-round. Have your pets micro-chipped and place an ID tag on their collar.

Birds need help, too
In addition to pets, birds and other animals need food and water during the winter. You can help by placing bird food and water in non-metal bowls. Tongues can stick to metal bowls when it’s cold out.
Break the ice in these bowls daily if necessary so that the animals can have access to the water.
Once a cold snap passes, remove any leftover food bits. This should cause birds to fly farther south in search of warmth and food.

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