When the weather turns cold and nasty, don't forget your four-footed friends.

Even though they have fur coats, they're liable to get cold, too. Make sure outdoor dogs and cats are out of the wind, snow and rain, in some type of insulated area, Seaside Veterinarian Robert Remensnyder said.

And because the ground, or cement, will also be very cold, place a warm blanket, shavings or pet bed underneath the animal to keep bones and joints warmer. If you turn off the house heat during the day, place an extra blanket on a bed or couch for an indoor pet to curl up on, he said.

During cold weather, many people carry extra antifreeze and other chemicals in their car which may leak. Certain antifreezes and other chemicals are extremely dangerous and may destroy kidney tissue in animals. When filling antifreeze reservoirs, be careful not to spill, or keep pets away until the spill is cleaned up. There are animal-safe antifreeze blends available. Look on the package or ask a clerk if there's any question, Remensnyder said.

Freezing temperatures will keep water frozen, so check all water dishes several times daily to make sure water is flowing and drinkable. Heated water sources should be double-checked to make sure they're working properly and will not zap outdoor animals, Astorian veterinarian Jessica Sanders said.

When weather is cold, most animals will expend more energy keeping warm. Increase the amount of food or provide a higher-quality, nutrient-rich food to help pets keep their energy high. Be aware, however, that most cats and dogs will eat whatever is provided at one time and may make themselves sick. So putting out a lot of extra food in the event you may be stranded might not be the best idea. Instead, make arrangements with a neighbor or close friend to check on pets if you can't get home, Sanders said.

To keep human feet from slipping, most cities and businesses will use salt and chemicals to melt ice from sidewalks and doorways. This can often burn an animal's feet, so avoid heavily salted or chemically melted sidewalks when walking your dog, she said.

Older cats and dogs have special needs. Cold temperatures are usually much harder on them and make arthritis worse. Even if a pet is usually kept outdoors, move them inside just during cold temperatures to keep them safe and warm.


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