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SPCA of Texas Offers Reminders

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As severe winter weather threatens the Metroplex, the SPCA of Texas reminds pet owners to protect their pets from the cold. The SPCA of Texas does not encourage people to leave their pets outside full time but urges pet owners who do keep their pets outdoors to follow these guidelines:

-During times of extreme low temperatures, all pets should be brought inside. A good rule of thumb is that if you're cold outside, your pet will be too. Some things to consider: Wet weather during times of extreme temperatures can lead to hypothermia or pneumonia in animals, very young or very old animals are more susceptible to suffering medical issues due to the cold and medical conditions such as arthritis can be aggravated by the cold.

-For outdoor dogs, weatherproof living quarters are a must. A dog's house should be able to retain heat, well insulated and dry. It should also be made up of three sides, a roof and, ideally, a floor. The house should be elevated and the entrance pointed away from wind. 

-Pet owners often innocently assume that their pets can withstand the cold weather with the aid of their thick coats, but in many cases they could not be more wrong. Indoor dogs shed their undercoats and should never be made to stay outside for very long. Never shave your dog down to the skin in the winter, leave their coat long for more warmth. And when you bathe your dog, completely dry his or her coat before letting them go outdoors. 

-If ice accumulates in water bowls, your pets can become dehydrated. Monitor the time your pet spends outdoors and be sure they always have fresh water to drink.

-Outdoor dogs need more calories in the winter to produce body heat, so increase the amount you feed your pet if he spends much of his time outdoors.

-Wipe your pets paws and legs clean with a wet cloth after an outing. Salt, antifreeze or other chemicals could hurt your dog if he or she ingests them while licking his or her paws. Chemicals used to melt snow and ice can irritate paws. Also, ice can get lodged between the paw pads, and can lead to frostbite, cuts or cracks.

-A cat may crawl up under your car seeking shelter and warmth near the engine and could get caught in the fan and seriously injured or killed. If you park your car outside, honk the horn, open the hood of your car to check or slap the hood of your car noisily with your hand before starting the engine to awaken any animal sleeping there.

-Antifreeze, even just tiny doses, is a lethal poison for dogs and cats. Animals are attracted to it because of its sweet taste, so be sure to clean up any spills from your vehicle.

-Never leave your dog or cat alone in a car during cold weather. A car can act as a refrigerator in the winter, holding in the cold, and the animal could freeze to death.

-Never let your dog off the leash on snow or ice. Dogs can easily lose their scent in these kinds of conditions and become lost. They may also panic in a storm and run away.

-Make sure your companion animal has a warm place to sleep far away from all drafts and off the floor. A good place would be a dog or cat bed with a warm blanket or pillow in it.

-Keep you pets happy and healthy all rear round by having them spayed or neutered, vaccinated and microchipped, and keep a collar with updated tags on them at all times.

For more information, log on to www.spca.org or call the SPCA of Texas at 214-742-SPCA (7722).

Dedicated to providing every animal exceptional care and a loving home, the SPCA of Texas is the leading animal welfare agency in North Texas with two shelters and two spay/neuter clinics located in Dallas and McKinney, and serves as an active resource center providing an array of programs and services that bring people and animals together to enrich each others' lives. A comprehensive animal welfare agency, the SPCA of Texas is not affiliated with any other entity and does not receive general operating funds from the City of Dallas, State of Texas, federal government or any other humane organization. Help stop pet overpopulation by donating to the SPCA of Texas and by spaying and/or neutering your pet. Visit us online at http://www.spca.org/.

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