WOW—it’s cold out there!  You are probably very familiar with dangers associated with warm weather (leaving pets in cars, hot pavement, etc), but did you know that cold weather can be equally hazardous? Here are a few guidelines to keep in mind as the temperatures dip.

1. Keep your cats indoors! During the winter, outdoor cats sometimes sleep under the hood of a car looking for warmth. When you start your engine, the cat can be injured or killed by the fan belt. As an extra precaution, you may want to bang on your hood before you start the car. Cats can also wander off trying to find a warm place to stay, resulting in getting lost or falling victim to predators.

2. Thoroughly wipe your dog’s feet, legs and stomach area when they come in from the sleet, snow or ice. A dog can ingest salt, antifreeze or other potentially dangerous chemicals while licking themselves.  Snow and ice can also become encrusted in their paws and pads causing soreness or bleeding.

3. Never shave your dog down to the skin in winter, a heavier coat provides insulation and warmth. After bathing, be sure to completely dry them before taking them outside. If your dog is a short-haired breed, you may want to consider a coat or sweater with a high collar or turtleneck to provide extra coverage from the base of the tail to the belly.

4. Never leave your dog or cat in a car during cold weather. Your vehicle can act as a refrigerator, holding in the cold temperature and causing the animal to freeze.

5. Be sure and increase your dog’s food supply, particularly protein, if they spend a lot time playing outside.  They will need the added nutrition to keep their bodies fueled.  And monitor their outside water supply, as water bowls become a block of ice when the temperatures fall below freezing.

6. We’ve said it before – antifreeze is lethal for both 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. Visit the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center more information on this.

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