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Winter coming is no surprise to anyone.  Here are some helpful reminders to keep your pets healthy and safe in cold weather.

*Do not leave your pet outside unsupervised without a warm shelter.  Just because an animal has fur, does not mean he/she can withstand the cold for long periods of time.  Though some dog breeds like Huskies and Malamutes are better suited to cold weather, all dogs should have access to a warm shelter at all times.  Most dogs do best living indoors.  However, if your dog must live outdoors, provide a heated dog bed, heated water bowl, and adequate shelter out of the elements.

*Small dogs or those with little to no hair should have sweaters or jackets for protection against the cold.  Practice wearing "clothing" before it is needed so that your dog will become accustomed to it.  

* Foot protection can be important, especially if you are going to be walking on ice or on streets that have salt on them.  The salt will make your dog's feet wet and then they will be extra cold.  Boots can be purchased in a variety of types and styles at most pet stores.  If your pet has walked on salted streets or sidewalks, it is a good idea to wipe off paws with a wet paper towel or rag once indoors.

*Never allow your pet to run across frozen bodies of water, in case there are thin spots in the ice.  Contrary to popular opinion, dogs cannot sense where thin spots are on a frozen surface.

*If your pet is in the cold and begins to shake excessively, get him/her to shelter immediately.  If the shaking does not stop, get pet to a veterinarian for treatment.

*Avoid letting your pet eat snow, as there can be objects and chemicals in the snow that can make them sick.  Remember that some chemicals, like antifreeze, taste good to dogs; but cannot only make them sick, but a very small amount can kill them. Make sure your pet has room temperature water available at all times.

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