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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.
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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.

Dogs in Cold Weather: Encouraging Potty Breaks

When the snow is deep and the temps plunge, no one wants to go potty outdoors. So how can you encourage your four-legged friend to go outside when the need strikes? WebMD pet message board members and others in the know offer these quick tips:

  • Shovel it. Keep a small area in the yard shoveled clear of snow; or at least be sure the snow is only an inch or two deep. Then encourage your pet to use this spot. It helps if you shovel a path to this snow-free area. 
  • Buy booties. If your dog is bothered by the snow or ice touching its feet, snow boots donned just before the potty break may make the outdoor journey -- and walking your pet in cold weather -- much easier. A bonus: Pet booties should help the house stay cleaner, too. 
  • Stay close. When it's really cold out, members suggest waiting by the door while your pooch uses its outdoor potty, then letting him back in as soon as he's done. 
  • Make an indoor potty. When the weather outside is truly frightful and you really don't want to let Fido or Fifi out, you do have indoor options for your pet's toilet needs:
  • Pet pee pads resemble a flat, unfolded diaper and are an especially effective option for small, older, or sick dogs. Most pet supply stores carry a range of pee pad sizes, from toy-dog tiny to extra large.
  • Indoor pee patches consist of small swathes of pseudo grass topping a broad, hollow tray into which urine collects each time a dog goes potty. You can find several inexpensive options with a quick online search.
  • Some smaller dogs can also be litter box-trained; even mature dogs can be taught to use a box inside. Be patient during the process, suggest message board members. Training your pup to use a litter box doesn't happen overnight.

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