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Winterizing Your Pet

I am fortunate to live in Arizona and although we do experience some cold days, winter here is never as bone-chilling as it is in many other parts of the country. I grew up in New England and can recall how winters seemed interminable and how I longed for balmy summer weather.

Just as we are, our pets are affected by the cold, too. How can we help make them comfortable during those long winter months?

My down comforter was one of the best investments I ever made for chilly winter nights. Make sure that your pets have warm cozy beds they can snuggle into. When the weather got cooler, I changed the cover of my dog's bed from cotton to fleece, or you can purchase a small inexpensive fleece blanket to put over the bed. Cats in particular love warmth, and mine spent many winter hours comfortably curled up in their soft, round fleecy beds.
Make sure you cover your bird or smaller animal's cage well at night when it's cold. Provide plenty of shavings they can burrow in for warmth. Keep the temperature warm enough for any animal who is used to a tropical or warm climate.

Another option to help keep them warm is clothing - there are many kinds available for both dogs and cats. Heavyweight fleece is probably the best for warmth and comfort, yet it is not too heavy. It also comes in lighter weights for the less chilly times of the year.
When you take your dog outside in cold weather, especially if he does not have a thick undercoat, be sure to add a warm jacket and consider some booties to help keep his feet warm and dry. Ice can really take a toll on even the toughest paw pads because it may cut and abrade them.

If you bathe your pet in the winter, always make sure she's completely dry (use a hair dryer if necessary) before taking her outside. It's easy for her to get very cold and possibly experience hypothermia if her skin or hair is even a little bit damp.

If your home has a fireplace or a wood burning stove, you might consider using this to add extra comfort and heat. You may want to add some humidity to the air too, because extra heat means extra dry!

Because our pets are dependent on us to care for them, think of ways that you can provide a warm and comfortable environment for your friends as we approach the colder time of year.

Deborah Dobson, FizzNiche Staff Writer