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As we find ourselves in the middle of winter, it's important to pay particular attention to our pets when they're outside. When temperatures get into the twenties and below, with whipping winds, pets can suffer serious health problems. Besides not leaving your dog, cat or other animal outside for too long, there are several other precautionary measures you can take to care for your loving pet.
I generally don't favor going nuts over buying every trinket imaginable for my pets, but there are a few that make a lot of sense when it's cold and windy out. For dogs and horses, it's a good idea to purchase a coat. I have an all weather coat for my dog that's made of a nylon material on the outside and fleece on the inside. This provides warmth as well as protection from the snow and rain. It attaches via one Velcro strap that goes from one side to the other side of the dog around his or her belly. As for cats, they don't often take kindly to coats, but do your best to keep them inside during winter storms. They can easily get disoriented under very bad conditions. I'd rather have more litter box duty to handle, than find myself driving around the neighborhood trying to track down a cold, wet cat!
I don't use "booties" for my dog, but some people actively use them for cats and dogs. For the most part, this is only necessary for animals that have very sensitive paws. These booties slide on the animal's feet and keep them warm and dry. As you can imagine, going to this extreme isn't necessary for most animals, just don't leave them outside for very long, use a coat and try to keep them off heavily salted streets - which can badly sting paws.
Lastly, I wanted to provide a few quick comments about fish and bird care. You may think that since your fish and birds are always in the house, you don't need to take any precautions when it's very cold - not true. Despite keeping the heat level in your house at the usual level, cold weather outside may create colder temperatures inside.
Make sure your fish tank water is at the normal temperature, and hasn't fallen due to the cold. If you have a pet bird, make sure he or she is out of any draft and is nice and warm - especially at night. Extended periods of cold temperatures for pet birds can be fatal. You probably do this already, but put an extra warm towel or sheet over the bird cage when it's particularly cold.
If you follow these few basic tips, you are more likely to have happy, healthy pets amidst the winter time cold!
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