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Protect your pets from the cold

Our recent bouts of wintry weather serve as a good opportunity to remind pet owners that freezing temperatures and icy conditions can be hazardous to cats and dogs.

So it’s important that pets stay indoors as much as possible during severe weather to avoid freezing.

Never leave animals out in icy temperatures. In addition to being very dangerous, it is cruel. Although dogs have to go outside to relieve themselves, don’t let them stay outside any longer than necessary, and protect smaller or short-haired pets with sweaters or coverings to keep them warm.

Remember, too, to keep the fur that’s between a pet’s toes trimmed to keep ice from accumulating there.

The winter months are uniquely hazardous, because many poisonous products are used to keep things from freezing, such as antifreeze, which is an extremely toxic substance. What makes antifreeze even more of a threat is that it tastes sweet to cats and dogs, but it only takes a small amount to kill them.

Once antifreeze is ingested by an animal, it causes rapid kidney failure. So, for safety’s sake, keep all antifreeze out of the reach of animals and quickly clean up any spills, no matter how minute. If an animal does ingest any antifreeze, contact a veterinarian immediately for treatment that is only effective if it begins within a few hours.

Salt used on sidewalks and driveways also can be hazardous to pets. The salt can irritate pets’ mouths, their paws and, if any of this salt is eaten by an animal, it can cause an upset stomach, drooling and electrolyte imbalances. So, be sure to protect your pet’s feet when possible around salt.

Another poisonous product found more prevalently this time of the year is rodent bait, which is used to keep the rats and mice from entering homes for warmth. Rodent bait is poisonous to all animals, in addition to mice and rats. If this poison is eaten by a pet, it can cause it to bleed to death internally. This product is especially bad, because its effects may not be noticed for a while.

And here are a few more tips for our fine furry friends during the winter: Don’t leave pets in cars, make sure animals have plenty to eat and drink and make sure their water bowl contains water — not a block of ice.

Given the cold and snowy winter weather we have experienced during the past several weeks, it’s best to keep pets indoors or in a warm sheltered area, like a garage or basement, during the winter. Animals definitely are affected by an adverse environment just like people.

Be responsible and take care of your pets.

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