When temperatures get colder, we always remember to bundle up our families before heading out, but sometimes we forget how the cold can affect our pets. The rule of thumb is usually if you’re cold, your pet is cold, too.

First of all, it is important to know that elderly pets, puppies and pets with illness are the most at-risk for cold weather deaths.

An animal’s fur may not protect them from the elements as well as you think, so here are some helpful tips to keep your dogs and cats safe in the cold:

Provide a warm space
It is important that pets have a warm space to retreat to in cold weather. Keeping pets indoors is the best option, but be wary of space heaters that can cause burns or get knocked over and start a fire. Be sure that plug-in heaters are safely away from dogs and cats, but their heat still accessible for a cozy napping spot. Also, a cold car can be just as dangerous as a hot car, so keep your pet with you if they are out with you.

Take care of their paws
Just like our need for lip balm increases with the cold, paws can become sensitive to chapping. To prevent this, Leslie Kessinger, co-owner of Three Dog Bakery in Franklin and Mt Juliet recommends Paw Spa, a hydrating balm that can help seal out things like ice and moisturize to keep paws from drying out. Booties are also a great option to protect paws. Three Dog Bakery also carries Pawz reusable dog booties to protect paws on walks.

Also, once you return from a walk be sure to wipe off paws and belly because deicers and antifreeze can be stepped in, and you don’t want your dog licking poisonous substances.

Watch for hypothermia
Signs that your pet may have a dangerously low body temperature include shivering, slow movements, whining, burrowing for warmth and weakness. If you think your pet may have frostbite or hypothermia contact your veterinarian immediately. Tips of ears and paws are typically the first places that frostbite will set in.

Bundle up for walks
It could be a fashion statement, or just good sense, but if you’re putting a coat on, your pet probably needs one too. There are breeds that stand the cold better than others, such as huskies and other thick-coated dogs, but short-haired and small dogs will truly appreciate a coat that covers from the base of the tail on the back around to the belly. Also, while overfeeding is not recommended to keep your pet healthy, a bit more protein in the winter can help thicken the coat.

Last but not least, if you must keep your pet outdoors during the winter months be sure they have lots of warm dry bedding and a solid windshield. Check water regularly to make sure it is not frozen, and plastic bowls are recommended because a metal bowl may stick to the tongue.

Remember, your pet gets cold just like you get cold, so sheltering them from the elements and making sure they are well fed and warm are the best ways to make it through the winter with your furry friends.

This article is brought to you by Three Dog Bakery, offering from scratch, fresh-baked dog treats, providing pet parents everywhere yummy, natural dog food they can feel good about giving their furry family members. Three Dog Bakery has two locations in Middle Tennessee: 1556 W McEwen Dr #112, Franklin, TN 37067 and 1982 Providence Pkwy #102, Mt Juliet, TN 37122.  Visit them at www.threedogbakerynash.com and Like them on Facebook.

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