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Healthy Pets

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

Coats to protect cats from cold weather are probably not a good idea, say pros we talked to. "Cats generally won't tolerate them well," Sonnenfield tells WebMD, adding that pet clothes are probably most useful for your pooch.

Yet, as cute as your dog's cold weather coat may be, don't put clothes on your pet and then shoo him outside to wander without supervision, says Susan G. Wynn, DVM, a veterinary nutritionist in Georgia. Not only does your pet risk frostbite and other danger if his canine clothes get wet, he may "try to get out of the sweater or coat and get caught in a way that makes suffocation a risk." Monitoring your dressed-up dog is essential.

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.

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