Cold Weather Pet Care

In many parts of the country, we're winterizing our homes as we prepare for winter's coldest days. But what about our pets? Are we ""winterizing"" them to meet the challenges of harsh winter weather?

Proper nourishment is a prime consideration. Well-nourished pets, particularly those housed outdoors, are better prepared to withstand the rigors of winter. Outdoor pets normally need more food to generate enough energy to cope with the cold. This is easily accomplished by feeding a high-quality nutritionally complete and balanced dog or cat food. You don't need any supplements unless your veterinarian recommends them for a health condition. If this is the case, chances are your pet should not be housed outside.

Along with a good diet, outdoor pets need fresh water. They cannot eat snow in sufficient amounts to prevent dehydration. Offer your pet fresh water several times during the day. Electrically-heated water bowls are available but they must be installed safely and monitored regularly.

Dogs housed indoors may require less food in order to maintain good body condition. They tend to be less active and expend less energy. Please continue their regular walks and play periods. Short-haired or geriatric dogs or those with health problems need the protective warmth of a dog sweater or jacket during outside jaunts.

If you notice a weight gain or loss, adjust food portions accordingly. If you have questions about your pet's body condition, check with your veterinarian.

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