December 10, 2009 08:13 PM

Baby, it’s cold outside! With temperatures falling and snow pummeling some parts of the country, it’s time to bundle up yourselves and your furbabies. “Pets are solely dependent on their human caregivers for safety and comfort – especially so during the winter months,” says Adam Goldfarb, director of the Humane Society of the United States’ Pets at Risk program. “Our pets are particularly vulnerable during winter storms and harsh winds.”

As a pet owner, what can you do to be sure your furry friends stay toasty this holiday season? The HSUS recommends the following:

1. Don’t leave pets outdoors when the temperature drops. To keep warm when it’s necessary to be outside, short-coated dogs may feel more comfortable wearing a sweater during walks.

2. Be sure to feed your pets adequately in the winter. Pets who spend significant time outdoors on walks need more to eat in the winter, since keeping warm depletes energy. Be sure their water is kept fresh.

3. Use plastic bowls instead of metal for food and water that is served outside. You don’t want your pet’s tongue getting stuck to his or her dish in icy temps!

4. Keep your pet’s feet clean. Salt and other chemicals used to melt snow and ice can irritate paw pads – and may even be harmful if ingested. Wipe feet with a damp towel before your dog or cat gets the chance to lick them!

5. Make your doghouse comfortable. If your dog does happen to live outside in a doghouse, be sure it’s dry and draft-free, and has ample space for the pup to sit and lie down comfortably. The floor should be raised a few inches off the ground and covered with cedar shavings or straw. The doorway should be covered, and the house should be turned to face away from the wind.

Remember, do your best to keep outdoor cats and dogs inside, especially on those brutally cold days. After all, it is the holiday season, meant for spending time with those you love – both with two and four legs!

Learn more about caring for animals on PEOPLEPets.com:
Pet Massage Therapy Moves the Healing Process Along, Gently
Puppy Mill Action Week: 5 Ways You Can Help

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