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Taking Steps To Keep Your Pets Safe in the Cold

BLOOMINGTON - Some animals love the cold, but experts say outside is not best place for them, with colder days and even chillier nights looming.
BLOOMINGTON - Dropping winter temperatures can make outdoor time a bit uncomfortable for pet owners.

"Lots and lots of warm clothing," said Seth Lease of Normal.

Some animals love the cold, but experts say outside is not best place for them, with colder days and even chillier nights looming.

"Animals are amazing with how they can cope with it, but hypothermia and frostbite are big, big dangers for them," said Dr. David Bortell, a veterinarian.

Seth Lease has spent many winters in the Midwest, and he's still not totally prepared for his dog’s unreal desire to play outside.

"I've had a lot of labs, particularly, and they can stay out about half an hour, plus. They usually hold their paws up, the shivering is common, but him, he'll curl up and sleep in snow six inches of snow during a snowstorm and he'll be fine," said Lease.

For pets that live outside all the time, Bortell says it's important to check their shelter and ensure they have enough food and water.

"They do need more calories in the winter, in order to keep their heat production up," said Bortell.

Bortell recommends staying with your dog when you take them out, so you don’t lose track of them, and sometimes even taking an extra step.

"If you've got a dog with short hair or no hair, then definitely having a sweater on it in the colder weather is the best thing," said Bortell.

If your pet gets left out too long—Bortell says even just 15 minutes can sometimes be enough—they can get sick and then you need to gradually help them warm up.

"You don't want to put them in hot water or anything like that. But to slowly warm them up, put some towels in the dryer that you could put around them, and again seek your veterinarian out as soon as possible afterwards," said Bortell.

Bortell also says you should be on the lookout for stray animals, especially cats, which might go inside the hood of your car to heat up when the weather goes south. If you live by a body of water, make sure your pet doesn't wander onto it, in case the water isn't frozen solid. Also, he recommends that you keep a close eye on your pets near antifreeze, rodent traps or poison.

He says if your pet shows any signs of frostbite or other illnesses, like pinker skin, be sure to bring them in to a veterinarian as soon as possible.



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