Tips For Keeping Pets Safe In Cold Weather

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FAYETTEVILLE (KFSM) -- As Old Man Winter made his presence known in Northwest Arkansas and the River Valley, it's important to remember about pets and how the winter weather affects them.

"Just like any other family member, or anything that's your responsibility when it gets cold outside," said Justine Lentz, superintendent at the Fayetteville Animal Shelter. "You need to make sure that you're looking out for that."

Many pets get lost in the winter. Purchasing a well fitting collar with up-to-date contact information is a good choice.

Lentz said she recommends outdoor dogs live in a sturdy doghouse with a floor and a door flap to help prevent moisture from creeping in.

"To help keep your pet dry and warm, we recommend that you use straw, not hay, not blankets or bedding," Lentz said. "Those things can get wet, ice over and then it's actually colder inside the doghouse than outside."

Also, outdoor animals should have plenty of food and water bowls that are free of ice.

When you let your indoor dog outside, keep the time short, said Lentz. Check for salt inside the animal's paws, or take the advice of dog owner Valerie Straub.

"We've got little booties that we'll put on her feet to help protect from frostbite," Straub said. "That's something our vet said we should watch out for."

Outdoor cats are resourceful and will often find a place to keep warm, but if you're still worried, Lentz recommends cutting a whole in a Styrofoam cooler and adding straw.

"If you get on Pinterest, Google, Facebook, there's all kinds of information on how to build a nice little winter cat shelter," Lentz said.

At the end of the day, bringing your pets indoors is always the best solution.

"My best advice is to bring them in," Lentz said. "Whether you crate them, put them in your kitchen or if you even just have them in your garage. At least it's a lot more sheltered that it is outside."