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Pet Winter Safety: Prepping Your Pet for Winter Weather

When the weather outside is frightful, these winter pet tips can keep your precious pets snug, safe, and warm.

Pet Winter Safety: Should Your Pet Dress for the Weather? continued...

While you're at it, keep an eye on your pup's pads too, Sonnenfield says. "It does not take long for snow to freeze on their paws and cause problems." Salt-spread sidewalks can also imperil your pooch's pads by burning them. If you go the route of protective booties for your dog, try slipping baby socks onto his paws to get him used to the feel of something on his feet. Once your pooch accepts the socks, he's probably ready for booty bling.

A quick note about dog boots: Be sure they fit snuggly but not too tight. Otherwise you risk cutting off your dog’s circulation and inviting frostbite.

Pet Winter Safety for Very Young and Older Pets

Dog boots, cute coats, flashy collars, and leashes -- these are all meant to be used with healthy, adult pets in winter.

Puppies and kittens as well as older dogs and cats shouldn't be outside no matter how well-dressed. That's because they just don't have the fat, metabolism, or the full fur coat they need to stay warm when temperatures plunge.

When it's cold or wet out, veterinarians say it's vital to keep younger, older, and sick pets indoors.

Cats and Cold Weather: Transitioning an Outdoor Cat Indoors

Feral, abandoned, and lost cats: Many of us do our best to care for these cats year-round, but winter can be an especially tough time for an outdoor-only feline. Fortunately, some cats can be transitioned to the indoors, but you'll need to "start the transition several months before you anticipate really cold weather," McGeorge says.

The best time to begin the change is late spring or early summer when it's warm enough to leave a door or window open, she says. Then you'll need to "coax the cat in with food or treats. But leave the door or window open so he or she can easily escape."

Once the cat is accustomed to coming inside for food, start giving meals inside. Close the door or window while the cat is eating, but open it immediately if she gets panicked and wants out. The goal, McGeorge says, is to gradually let the cat see that coming indoors is safe and comfortable.

Remember that any cat kept inside needs stimulation, says Wynn, author of Manual of Natural Veterinary Medicine. So make sure your indoor environment offers lots for your cat to do. Wynn suggests regular play with laser pointers and cat toys, as well as cat trees and catwalks.

Cats and Cold Weather: Preparing an Outdoor-Only Cat for Winter

No matter what we do, some cats may only feel safe outside. But you can still keep kitty snug and warm this winter. Once nighttime temps dip into the low 40s, your outdoor pet should have shelter, Sonnenfield says.

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