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Take care of your pets in cold weather

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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) -

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department's Animal Care & Control sent a reminder to pet owners today.

With cold temperatures and winter weather, it's imperative pet owners take precautions to keep pets warm, dry, and safe.

The best option is to bring outdoor pets inside.

When taking dogs outside for bathroom breaks, remember to consider their breed and what type of coat they have. Some dogs cannot tolerate the cold for extended periods of time.

Always make sure to inspect your dog's paws when they come back inside. If they have walked on any surfaces that were treated for ice, be sure to clean their paws thoroughly.

WHEN TEMPERATURES GET BELOW FREEZING: BRING YOUR PETS INDOORS.

Pets must build up a thicker coat and get their footpads toughened for snow and ice.

Also, pets that get too cold could develop hypothermia or even frostbite. Animals that stay well-hydrated are less likely to be affected. That is why it is especially important to make sure your pet's water bowl does not freeze. Break up any ice that forms in the bowl and change the water frequently.

Animals also like the taste of antifreeze, but it is a deadly poison. The most likely source of antifreeze is from radiator drainage in your garage or driveway. If your car leaks any antifreeze, immediately wash it away with water.

Below is specific advice related to different types of pets:

OUTDOOR PETS – PROPER SHELTER
If your pet spends a lot of time outdoors, let him get acclimated gradually to dropping temperatures. Outdoor pets need a sheltered place that is well-bedded with DRY straw, shavings or blanket strips that trap warm air. Remember, animals drag a lot of moisture into their bedding areas from snow, rain and mud. Check their bedding often and change it whenever it is wet. Also, outdoor pets need more food during the winter because extra calories allow them to produce more body heat.

CATS
Most cats prefer to spend the winter indoors, but if your cat prefers to stay outside, be very cautious. Cats left outdoors have a particular hazard because they often crawl into car engines to stay warm. When the engine is started up, the cat can be seriously injured or killed by the fan blade or belt.

PUPPIES
Puppies do not tolerate the cold as well as adult dogs and may be difficult to housebreak during the winter. If your puppy appears to be sensitive to the weather, you may opt to paper-train him inside.

DOG FOOT (PAW) CARE
Thoroughly wipe off dog's legs, feet and stomach when they come in out of the snow or ice.  They can ingest salt, antifreeze or other dangerous chemicals if they lick their paws.  Be sure to inspect the pads of their feet for encrusted ice as they may crack from the cold.  Many dogs need boots in cold weather.

DOG OUTERWEAR
Dogs with very short coats have the least tolerance for cold. Extremely short-coated
breeds include Greyhounds, Dobermans, Boxers, Boston Terriers, Chihuahuas,
Miniature Pinschers and Miniature Dachshunds. These breeds should not go
outside without a sweater or a coat. Dogs should not be shaved down to the skin during the winter months. If you bathe your dog during the winter, be sure the dry them completely before they go outside.

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