Local shelter gives pet owners a few tips to help keep pets safe in the cold

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Winter weather may mean breaking out the rain and snow boots for us but it could spell trouble for our pets. (KFSN)

Winter weather conditions are bringing heavy rain and chilly, sometimes freezing, temperatures to the area. It may mean breaking out the rain and snow boots for us but it could spell trouble for our pets.

The Valley Animal Center shared a few tips for pet owners to keep their animals healthy and happy during cold days:

- Have your pet examined by a vet, as cold weather can worsen conditions like arthritis.

- Increase your pet's calorie intake during winter months if the pet lives outdoors, as they burn more calories to keep warm in cold weather. Pets who spend a lot of time outdoors need more food in the winter because keeping warm depletes energy.

- Routinely check your pet's water dish to make certain the water is fresh and unfrozen. Use plastic food and water bowls; when the temperature is low, your pet's tongue can stick and freeze to metal.

- Cold weather can damage your dog's paws, so inspect them to see if are cracked or bleeding.

- Clean up any automotive leaks thoroughly, as antifreeze can look tasty to our pets but is poisonous.

- It is recommended to keep your pets indoors. If you can't, make sure that your pet has a well-insulated, dry shelter from wind and access to fresh water.

- Never shave your dog down to the skin in winter, as a longer coat will provide more warmth.

- Bathe your pets as little as possible during cold spells. Washing too often can remove essential oils and increase the chance of developing dry, flaky skin. If your pooch must be bathed, ask your vet to recommend a moisturizing shampoo and/or rinse.

- Remember, if it's too cold for you, it's probably too cold for your pet, so keep your animals inside. If left outdoors, pets can freeze, become disoriented, lost, stolen, injured or killed. In addition, don't leave pets alone in a car during cold weather, as cars can act as refrigerators that hold in the cold and cause animals to freeze to death.

- If your dog is outdoors much of the day for any reason, they must be protected by a dry, draft-free shelter that is large enough to allow them to move comfortably, but small enough to hold in body heat. The floor should be raised a few inches from the ground and covered with cedar shavings or straw. The doorway should be covered with waterproof burlap or heavy plastic.

- No matter what the temperature is, wind chill can threaten a pet's life. Exposed skin on noses, ears and paw pads are at risk for frostbite and hypothermia during extreme cold snaps. For this reason, short-haired dogs often feel more comfortable wearing a sweater even during short walks.

- If there are outdoor cats, either owned pets or community cats in your area, remember that they need protection from the elements as well as food and water.

-Cars are one of many hazards to small animals as warm engines in parked cars attract cats and small wildlife who may crawl up under the hood. To avoid injuring any hidden animals, bang on your car's hood to scare them away before starting your engine.

The Valley Animal Center is one of the largest no kill dog and cat animal adoption centers in the Valley, and as a non-profit it is run solely on donations.
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