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It may be summer on our half of the planet, but places like the US have recently been hit with an intense cold front. This can have major repercussions for pets, especially those that prefer to stay outdoors. Here are some handy tips to keep your pet comfortable and safe during the cold weather. Dogs can be especially sensitive to temperature changes depending on their breed, age and sensitivity to their environment. Your veterinarian can tell you when your pet needs to stay indoors. Here are some tips to keep your pets safe and happy during the colder months: 
–       Make sure any dog houses are raised slightly to avoid rain and dampness

–       Bedding should always be dry, and must be cleaned and changed frequently

–       Pets can easily suffer from hypothermia and frostbite, and are at higher risk if they are very old or young, or have arthritis – this is why it is important to make sure your pet isn’t in any discomfort especially if it is outside

–       Cats hate the cold so will seek warmth in places such as dryers, near heaters or even under car wheels. Always check these places before using them.

–       If it is not possible to keep your pet indoors, set up a warm house away from wind, rain and snow with insulation using things like straw or blankets.

–       Avoid space heaters, heat lamps, or other devices that can easily harm or burn your pet if you leave them unattended – this can also become a fire hazard. Always use specialised heating mats or products from pet stores, and set them up according to given instructions.

–       Getting a jumper for smaller pets may be a good option, because it helps them retain body heat and insulates them when they have been outside

–       Using heated mats and water bowls is important, because pets need access to fresh water at all times – snow and ice is not enough

–       Most outdoor pets require more food in colder climates to keep their energy levels up and maintain body heat at the same time.

–       Always be careful when walking dogs – if they can tolerate walking boots then definitely invest in a set, because walking on icy roads can cause their paws to become dry, chapped and extremely painful.

–       The best alternative is to keep pets inside with you at all times, to make sure they aren’t getting themselves into trouble by ingesting things like antifreeze or putting themselves at risk by looking for heat.

If you find your pet reacting adversely to the cold weather, treat it extremely carefully – remember it is much harder for pets to tell you their symptoms as opposed to a person. Don’t use hot water to cancel out the effect of frostbite or hypothermia because it may damage skin and could be fatal. Taking your pet to the emergency clinic or contacting your veterinarian is the best option.