Tips to keep pets safe during cold weather conditions - WFLA News Channel 8

Tips to keep pets safe during cold weather conditions

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"Ally" always wears her snow boots in the cold-Kansas City "Ally" always wears her snow boots in the cold-Kansas City
"Paden" wears a sweater in the snow-Ohio "Paden" wears a sweater in the snow-Ohio
"Vegas" thinks about his furry friends up north-Florida "Vegas" thinks about his furry friends up north-Florida
TAMPA, FL (WFLA) - In many areas, winter is a season of bitter cold and numbing wetness. Extra precautions during winter months will make sure your four-footed family members stay safe and warm.

Help your pets remain happy and healthy during the colder months by following these simple guidelines:

Keep pets indoors and warm Don't leave dogs or cats outdoors when the temperature drops. Regardless of the season, short-haired, very young, or old dogs and all cats should never be left outside without supervision. Dogs and cats are safer indoors, except when taken out for exercise. During walks, short-haired dogs may feel more comfortable wearing a sweater.

No matter what the temperature, wind chill can threaten a pet's life. Pets are sensitive to severe cold, and they are at risk for frostbite and hypothermia when they are outdoors during extreme cold snaps. Exposed skin on noses, ears, and paw pads can quickly freeze and suffer permanent damage.

Take precautions if your dog spends a lot of time outside A dog or cat is happiest and healthiest when kept indoors. If for some reason your dog is outdoors much of the day, he or she must be protected by a dry, draft-free shelter that is large enough to allow the dog to sit and lie down comfortably, but small enough to hold in his/her body heat. The floor should be raised a few inches off the ground and covered with cedar shavings or straw. The house should be turned to face away from the wind, and the doorway should be covered with waterproof burlap or heavy plastic.

Help neighborhood outdoor cats If there are outdoor cats, either owned pets or community cats (ferals, who are scared of people, and strays, who are lost or abandoned pets) in your area, remember that they need protection from the elements as well as food and water. It's easy to give them a hand.

Give your pets plenty of water Pets who spend a lot of time outdoors need more food in the winter because keeping warm depletes energy. Routinely check your pet's water dish to make certain the water is fresh and unfrozen. Use plastic food and water bowls rather than metal; when the temperature is low, your pet's tongue can stick and freeze to metal.

Be careful with cats, wildlife, and cars Warm engines in parked cars attract cats and small wildlife, who may crawl up under the hood. To avoid injuring any hidden animals, bang on your car's hood to scare them away before starting your engine.

Protect paws from salt The salt and other chemicals used to melt snow and ice can irritate the pads of your pet's feet. Wipe all paws with a damp towel before your pet licks them and irritates his/her mouth.

Avoid antifreeze poisoning Antifreeze is a deadly poison, but it has a sweet taste that may attract animals and children. Wipe up spills and store antifreeze (and all household chemicals) out of reach. Coolants and antifreeze made with propylene glycol are less toxic to pets, wildlife, and family. Read more about pets and antifreeze »

The best tip of all: keep your pets with you Probably the best prescription for winter's woes is to keep your dog or cat inside with you and your family. The happiest dogs are those who are taken out frequently for walks and exercise, but kept inside the rest of the time.

Dogs and cats are social animals who crave human companionship. Your animal companions deserve to live indoors with you and your family.

Related Content: Cold weather shelters to open throughout Tampa

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Information provided by the Humane Society of the United States

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