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The Do's and Don'ts of Winter Pet Safety

See what to do and what not to do with your pet during the chilly months

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    Do: Put sweaters and coats on short haired dogs
    Don't: Put sweaters and coats on heavy fur breeds
    According to an interview in RedEye Chicago with Dr. Stacia Volbrecht, Emergency Room Director of the Chicago Veterinary Emergency and Specialty Center, long haired dogs with thick coats (like huskies and collies) should be okay without coverage, while short haired, young or old dogs may need something extra to keep warm.

    Photo Credit: tobyotter
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    Do: Invest in booties to protect their paws
    Don't: Forget to wipe off paws after they've been outside
    Dr. Stacia Volbrecht (RedEye Chicago) also mentioned that one of the most common winter emergencies for pets is irritated paw pads caused by salt on sidewalks and streets. This is why putting booties on your dog or at least wiping off paws with a clean, wet cloth once they come inside is essential to ensure licking the wounds stays at a minimum.

    Photo Credit: Wonderlane
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    Do: Watch for outdoor cats in car engines or sleeping under car hoods
    Don't: Leave your pet in the freezing car or ignore antifreeze leakage
    Cats tend to seek warmth in places like a car engine or even under the wheel well, which is why honking, hitting the hood or kicking the tires is a good idea so the cat won't be harmed from starting your car and can escape unscathed. Just as it's important to not leave pets in cars in the summer, it's also not advised to do so in the winter as the car acts as a refrigerator. Cleaning up antifreeze spills is also key because it is poisonous to cats and dogs.

    Photo Credit: jenny downing
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    Do: Accompany pets outdoors for walks
    Don't: Let them loose outside for extended periods of time
    We know pets need exercise, but by letting them run free without supervision, a leash or an electric fence means your pet runs the risk of getting lost. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, the snow and ice hides familiar scents that pets need to find their way home. Staying by your dog’s side also reduces the chance of your dog getting into a dangerous winter-related situation (like falling through ice on a lake) without help.

    Photo Credit: Maja Dumat
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    Do: Make sure your pet has plenty of water outside
    Don't: Put the water in a metal bowl
    Staying warm is an act that requires much of the body’s energy, so pets need to have ample access to sources of water to keep hydrated during the winter. Placing water in a plastic bowl is a better idea because the water is less likely to freeze and your pet’s wet tongue won't stick to the metal.

    Photo Credit: Michele Hubacek