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Winter Wisdom for Your Pets

These can be the cruelest months for dogs and cats, so why not be kind?

By Judy DouBrava


They live under camper shells, upturned barrels and a few boards propped against the fence, or their doghouses are damp and leaky.

Firewood Peril

An unexpected winter danger to household pets can lurk in the firewood or kindling you bring into your home. Besides burrs and goatheads and other prickly perils that might come along for the ride, oak branches, bark and even acorns can be toxic to pets if nibbled on. The tannins in oak can cause poisoning even in small amounts, leading to listlessness, loss of appetite, gastrointestinal problems, kidney damage and death.

Small wonder, then, that although equipped with fur coats, dogs and other animals can still suffer from frostbite, exposure and even dehydration when water sources freeze. Cold weather spells extra hardship for "backyard dogs."

In nature, dogs will dig dens or otherwise find refuge from the elements, but chained dogs have no escape from the cold. During winter months, chained dogs can end up with frostbitten ears and noses, as well as dying or even dead, found frozen to the ground.

When the mercury plummets, animals need extra protection from the elements. Take the following precautions to ensure animals' safety:

If you must leave your dog outside for any length of time during the cold weather, provide them with proper shelter. Ideally, doghouses should be made of wood (plastic doesn't insulate as well, and metal conducts cold) and should be positioned in a sunny location during cold weather. Raise the house off the ground several inches, and put a flap over the door to keep out cold drafts. Use straw for bedding; rugs and blankets can get wet and freeze. Pretend that YOU are spending time outside in the conditions you have provided your pet. Would you be warm enough?

Please, don't leave your pet out in the cold. Bring them inside and make them part of your pack.


Judy DouBrava is a Silver City animal lover. For help or more information, visit her site at groups.msn.com/SilverCityDogsDeserveBetter.

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