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Pet Points: Protecting your pet in cold weather

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DETROITThis blog is powered by the Michigan Humane Society.

“How do I protect my pet from the cold weather?”

Keep pets indoors during cold weather. Small breed dogs and dogs with short hair should only go outdoors for short times when necessary. A sweater or coat may be needed to protect them from the cold, but remember ear tips, tails and feet are all prone to frostbite.

After going outdoors, wash and dry your pet’s feet to remove any salt, ice or other irritating substances.

If pets are kept outdoors, they must be provided with appropriate shelter such as a heated garage or insulated house. The house should have a slanted roof, a floor that is raised up off the ground, and the opening should be covered with a flap to prevent drafts.

Clean, dry straw should be provided as bedding. A water source that does not freeze is necessary, along with plenty of high quality food since outdoor animals burn more calories in the cold weather from trying to keep warm.

Outdoor cats will often seek shelter under the hoods of warm cars. Watch for paw prints in the snow around your car. Knock on the hood before starting your car to warn a cat that might be hiding inside. Keep cats indoors.

Do not allow your pet to walk on frozen lakes or ponds. The ice may be thin and your pet could fall into the water.

Antifreeze is deadly to animals. Just small amounts will lead to kidney failure and death. Keep antifreeze out of reach of animals and clean up any spills promptly and thoroughly.

Pets may be prone to dry skin during the winter months. A humidifier may help prevent this. Consult your veterinarian if your pet is scratching excessively or has red, irritated skin.