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Extra Protection Advised for Pets in Extreme Cold

Keeping pets outdoors is common, but when it gets this cold they'll need a little extra attention.
(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) If you're a pet owner, then you want your pets to be safe all year.

But if you have an outdoor animal, some extra precautions are necessary now that it's getting so cold outside.

 "You definitely should winterize for your pet and plan for the worst," said Holly Bowie, the manager of the St. Joseph Animal Shelter.  "But when it gets cold and you have these wind chill advisories, then you should take additional precautions to make sure your pet is comfortable."

Any dog might like to be walked outside, but for those who have outdoor animals, sleeping out in the cold might be ideal.

Experts say you should feed them a little extra to maintain their metabolism.

Make sure the doghouse faces south or west so it doesn't catch the north wind.

And inside that dog house, straw or hay is a little better at trapping heat.

"Make sure the dog has a quality dog house that's insulated with a lot of bedding, whether it be blankets or hay," Bowie said.  "The water bowl needs to be a heated water bowl or you'll have to check the water on a regular basis.  It'll freeze right up on the dog and then they won't have any drinking water."

It's said if you don't have a heated drinking bowl, check the water bowl at least twice a day.

"They can dehydrate as easily in the winter as they can in the summer if that bowl is frozen over," said Dr. Susan Nelson, a veterinarian from Kansas State University.

The animals at the St. Joseph Animal Shelter are kept inside most of the time.

But caretakers say they still get regular calls from people who see neglected pets out in the cold.

"Whether or not they have a bad house we still have to go investigate and make sure the dogs are taken care of," Bowie said.

The experts say the very best thing you can do - especially at night when temperatures can get below zero - is to bring those pets indoors, provided that there's room for them to sleep.

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