As temperatures drop and the bitter cold of winter approaches extra precautions need to be taken to keep our furry friends safe. To prevent frostbite, hypothermia, and other health issues attributed to severe cold weather, it's recommended that you keep your pets indoors as much as possible. However, if your pet has to spend large portions of the day outdoors, following these simple guidelines will help keep them happy and healthy.

Breakout the Winter Coat

One of the best ways to keep your pet warm in the winter is to leave their hair long. Just be sure to trim out any ice balls that could collect at the ends of their hair or in their paws. If your pet is short-haired, consider a coat or sweater to help keep them warm during cold spells3. If dogs could talk, they'd say they have a good variety of dog clothing that comes in different sizes and designs. Not only will they be warm outside, but the bright colors will also make them stay fashionable.

A Place to Curl Up

Having a cozy bed in your home for your companion to cuddle up in is perfect for keeping him snug in the winter months. There are many different bedding styles so it is important to find the best type to fit your pet's sleep style. The two most common sleep styles are "curled up" or "stretched out". Since curling up is more conductive in colder weather, we suggest taking a look at dog loungers. There are even beds that offer special warming features like the Aspen Pet Self-Warming Lounger. This bed uses the same heat-reflecting technology found in space blankets that generates warmth by reflecting the pet's body heat.

Not sure what bed is right for your dog? Find out how to choose the right one.

Provide a warm outside shelter

If your pet must stay outside during cold weather it's important that he is able to get out of the elements. Every pet needs a dry, draft-free shelter that is large enough for them to sit and lie down in, but small enough to hold in their body heat1. A great example is the Petmate Indigo dog house. This igloo-shaped dog house is ideal for protection from the rain and wind, and the dome shape allows for pets to curl up and stay warm. We also carry a line of other dog house styles, as well as accessories for insulation and extra warmth.

Defrost the Bowl

When temperatures dip below freezing any food and water outside will likely freeze over. It's important to check outside water bowls often and keep them filled with clean, unfrozen water. Also, remember to swap out any metal bowls with plastic bowls to keep your pet's tongue from sticking to the metal in low temperatures. It is a good idea to provide a secondary water source inside your home so that your pet always has access to fresh, drinkable water.

Watch out for spills

Antifreeze spillage from vehicles is common this time of year. This chemical has a sweet taste that can attract pets and other animals, however, it is a deadly poison if ingested. If you notice any antifreeze spills in your driveway or garage, be sure to clean it up immediately and properly to protect your pet.

If it's too cold for you it's too cold for them

As a rule of thumb, if it's too cold for you it's probably too cold for them1. If you can't stand the cold, don't force your pet to endure it. During times of severe winter weather bring your pets inside with you until it is safe for them to go back outside.

Speak out if you see a pet left in the cold

If you notice a pet that has been left outside in freezing temperatures without food or shelter, speak out! There are many dangers that pets face if kept outside without the necessities to survive and stay warm. Animal neglect is considered a punishable crime in all 50 states. Do not stay silent if you see any animal that might be in danger. You could be saving a life!

The weather this time of year can be unpredictable, unbearable, and downright dangerous if the proper provisions are not provided. With these tips, you can help keep your pets warm and healthy when outdoors during times of severe winter weather. Cold weather is also a great excuse to snuggle up and spend some extra cuddle time with your best friend.

Sources:

1http://www.humanesociety.org/animals/resources/tips/protect_pets_winter.html

2http://www.humanesociety.org/news/press_releases/2010/12/keep_pets_inside_winter_122110.html?credit=web_id112494760

3http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/general-pet-care/cold-weather-safety-tips

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