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Keep Fido smiling during the cold weather. Photo Credit; Rita Cook

It’s cold outside and even though the temperatures are not dipping below freezing this week, it could happen again here in North Texas.

Don’t neglect to take care of your outdoor pets when the weather drops because remember they get as cold as you do.

Tammy Miller, Tri City Animal Shelter Manager in Cedar Hill offers a few tips for your pets when the weather is cold outside.

“Many of you know how dangerous the hot weather can be for our fur kids, but some may think their fur coat is enough to protect them in the winter, Miller said. “Sadly, the cold weather poses some really serious threats to our animal kingdom.”

  • Honk a Horn: A warm vehicle engine can be an appealing heat source for outdoor and feral cats, but it's deadly. Check underneath your car, bang on the hood, and honk the horn before starting the engine to encourage feline hitchhikers to abandon their roost under the hood.
  • Winter wellness:  Cold weather may worsen some medical conditions such as arthritis. Your pet should be examined by a veterinarian at least once a year sort of like our annual checkup. Not only does this continue to build your relationship with the veterinarian but it may also give you a head start on a developing issue.
  • Different Species: Even different breeds and different ages have different tolerances: Just like people, pets' cold tolerance can vary based on their coat, body fat, activity level, and health. Be aware of your pet's tolerance and adjust accordingly. Long-haired or thick-coated dogs tend to be more cold-tolerant, but are still at risk in cold weather. Short-haired pets as well as short legged pets feel the cold faster because they have less protection. Pets with diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, or hormonal imbalances (such as Cushing's disease) may have a harder time regulating their body temperature. The same goes for very young and very old pets.
  • Stay inside. Cats and dogs should be kept inside during cold weather. It's a common belief that animals are more resistant than people to cold weather because of their fur, but it's untrue. No pet should be left outside for long periods of time in freezing weather.
  • Provide shelter: We don't recommend keeping any pet outside for long periods of time, but if you are unable to keep your pet inside during cold weather, provide him/her with a warm, solid shelter against wind. Make sure that they have unlimited access to fresh, non-frozen water. The floor of the shelter should be off of the ground and the bedding should be thick, dry and changed regularly to provide a warm, dry environment. The door to the shelter should be positioned away from prevailing winds. Straw can be used as helpful warm bedding.
  • Check the paws: Check your dog's paws frequently for signs of cold-weather injury or damage, such as cracked paw pads or bleeding. During a walk, a sudden lameness may be due to an injury or to ice accumulation between his/her toes. You may be able to reduce the chance of accumulation by clipping the hair between your dog's toes.
  • Collar and chip: Many pets become lost in winter because snow and ice can hide recognizable scents that might normally help your pet find his/her way back home. Make sure your pet has a well-fitting collar with up-to-date identification and contact information. A microchip is a more permanent means of identification, but it's critical that you keep the registration up to date.
  • Prevent poisoning: Clean up any antifreeze spills quickly, as even small amounts of antifreeze can be deadly. Make sure your pets don't have access to medication bottles, household chemicals, potentially toxic foods such as onions, xylitol (a sugar substitute) and chocolate.

“There are few better feelings in the world than the way our pets warm our hearts with their loyalty and loving companionship,” Miller concludes. “Returning the favor by ensuring their warmth during this cold weather is not only simple to do - it is simply the right thing to do.”

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