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Don’t forget about pets being left out in the cold

We all find the snow and icy conditions being forecast for this week hard to bear. But that coupled with the bitter cold is especially hard on our pets. We all had near zero low temperatures just two days ago. All that after the ice/snow storm that hit Monday into Tuesday and even more snow yesterday.

Experts will tell you when the weather outside is too cold for you, it’s probably too cold for your domesticated animals. As temperatures drop, especially to single digits, and when wind chills turn frigid, it’s time to bring the pets inside. Pure, common sense would tell you to do so. But still you hear about — and sometimes even read about on our pages — of animla neglect and harsh conditions.

A misconception is that the animals’ fur will insulate them from the cold, but without proper shelter, food and water, domesticated animals’ chances of survival in frigid temperatures is decreased greatly, Humane Society officials say.

Owners of pets left out in the cold could face criminal charges, especially in communities where laws on tethering are in place. But the threat of legal action shouldn’t be the reason that pet owners take action. Frankly, it’s the right thing to do.

Animal welfare experts told a reporter for a sister newspaper of ours that an option for keeping dogs warm in outside dog houses include use of heat lamps near the pens that also should be packed inside with plenty of straw. Blankets or carpets are not preferable because they become cold, hard and ice-covered when they get wet.

If that option is not possible, then dogs should at least be brought out of the cold and wind into the garage or basement. Their water and food should be monitored to ensure it does not freeze.

Further, it’s important always to wipe any ice, snow or salt from the dogs’ paws — inside or outside. That’s because when dogs get salt on their feet, it can burn their paw pads. Also, dogs often lick their feet, and the chemicals from ice-melting agents are dangerous for dogs to ingest, experts say.

And, while you hunker down inside, opting to tie out your pets to do their business in the freezing cold, don’t let them remain outdoors for more than a few minutes — and certainly don’t forget them.

Remember, frigid temperature is just as hard and dangerous on pets as it is to humans. Part of their care should be keeping them warm and cuddly. Should you suspect animal abuse, call your local authorities.

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