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Winterize Your Pet

Tara Nemeth

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Oh the weather outside is frightful - and your dogs and cats still want to go outside and play! Unfortunately for us humans, rain and snow do not change the fact that our furry family members still need plenty of exercise. And this means heading outside for walks and playtime, even when your town is blanketed in snow. The good news is that outside walks and romping do not have to end just because winter is here. Here are some steps you can take to ensure you and your pet enjoy the cold weather:

  • Decide when cold is too cold.

    A good rule of thumb: Long-haired dogs can play outside for short periods of time when it's above 20°F; short-haired dogs, young pups, and elderly dogs should wait until the mercury rises to at least 40°F.

  • Be sure to bundle up.
    Short-haired dogs (even large ones) will appreciate the added warmth of a doggie coat or sweatshirt. Keep your long-haired dog well groomed. Tangled and matted fur does not provide as much natural insulation as a well-groomed coat.

  • Provide a safe, warm retreat for your cat.

    The best thing you can do for cats is to provide a safe, warm place, preferably high above ground, for them to snuggle up and hide. During very cold weather, ensure that indoor/outdoor cats have easy access to shelter.

  • Know the signs of hypothermia.

    According to the Humane Society of the US, signs of hypothermia include weak pulse, dilated pupils, decreased heart rate, extreme shivering, pale or blue mucous membranes, body temperature below 95 degrees, stupor and unconsciousness. Extreme hypothermia can cause neurological problems, coma, heart problems and kidney failure. If you believe your dog is suffering from hypothermia, wrap him in warm blankets and take him to your veterinarian or emergency animal hospital ASAP to prevent long-term complications.

  • Prevent anti-freeze poisoning.

    Ethylene Glycol is a substance found in many brands of antifreeze. It is attractive to animals because it is sweet smelling, sweet tasting - but it is also deadly. According to the Humane Society, over 10,000 pets die each year in the US from antifreeze poisoning. To reduce the risk of poisoning, choose a brand of antifreeze that contains propylene glycol, a chemical that is less toxic and significantly more bitter tasting, and therefore less attractive to animals than ethylene glycol. You can also keep your animal safe by storing your antifreeze in a locked cabinet, wiping up spills, and repairing leaks in your car immediately.

    By taking a few extra precautions, you and your favorite furry family member can enjoy all of your favorite winter activities!

    Tara Nemeth is the Director of Field Development for Petlane, a pet product company offering the best toys, treats, gifts, and health and safety items for dogs, cats and birds. People, pets and pet products are Tara's passions. She lives in California with her husband and her 6 year old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Jade. She invites you to visit her company's website at and for great pet parenting ideas, see her blog at

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