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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: 4 Tips for When the Temperature Drops continued...

"Cats can be poisoned by very small amounts," McGeorge tells WebMD. For example, a cat can be poisoned just by walking through spilled antifreeze and then licking its paws during cleaning. If you suspect your cat or dog has been exposed to antifreeze, don't wait to see if it acts sick, McGeorge says. Take it to a veterinarian for treatment immediately.

To avoid antifreeze exposure:

  • Be sure all antifreeze containers are tightly closed and put away on a high shelf. 
  • Make sure your car is not leaking antifreeze. "It takes a very small amount to make animals sick," Sonnenfield says.

Tip # 3: Walking pets in winter? Get reflective. During winter's darker days and longer nights, pets can be hard to see. That's why Sonnenfield recommends reflective collars. Some message board members also give a thumbs up to collars, tags, and leashes embedded with LED lights and blinkers.

Tip # 4: Keep your pet safe during the holidays. Winter holidays bring fun and family, but they also invite exposure to items potentially toxic or dangerous to your pet. Sonnenfield recommends keeping pets away from chocolate, plants, holly berries and leaves, and tinsel. Call the Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435 or your vet right away if you think your pet has eaten something dangerous.

Dogs and Cold Weather: Preparing a Warm Space for Your Dog

For a pooch that spends a lot of time outside, you'll need to take the same steps to protect your dog in cold weather as those taken for an outdoor-only cat, including:

  • Making sure your dog has warm, dry, draft-free, covered shelter, preferably in a garage, shed, or beneath a carport or porch awning.
  • Warming that shelter with bedding you check daily -- wet bedding can be fatal to a pet. Look into purchasing electric heating products specifically made for a dog's use.
  • Being sure that fresh, unfrozen water is available to your dog every day. You can find inexpensive warmers to keep your pet's water from freezing.
  • Providing your dog plenty of food; pets need even more calories in the winter to help them keep warm.

Always bring your dog inside when the temperatures turn particularly harsh, the pros say. "If you wouldn't want to be out in those conditions in just your clothes and a coat for too long, your pet won't want to be either," pet owner and Utah social worker Sherri G. says.

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