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How to keep your pets happy and safe during a cold snap

Keeping your pets safe in the cold
Keeping your pets safe in the cold 01:39

MINNEAPOLIS -- If you're feeling cold then your pet is probably feeling cold as well. WCCO's Allen Henry spoke with pet owners about the best ways to keep your pet happy and warm as the temperatures drop. 

A snow and ice-filled dog park hasn't stopped many pups from having fun, but the dropping temperatures are another story. And as we prepare for the next cold snap, vets say it's important to prepare your pets too.

"Hypothermia is something that animals also experience. So they get lethargic, they get extra cold, they stop eating, they might hunker down in a place and ultimately, you may find that they pass away," said Dr. Sara Lewis, a veterinarian at the Animal Humane Society.

Now if your pet has a lot of energy, it might be tempting to let them outside and release some of it. But veterinarians say there are ways to keep your pet inside and stimulated at the same time.

"Brain puzzles, those sorts of food puzzle types of things, can get their toys that get their mind going. Anything you can do to stimulate their brain is equal to what you would do when you're out on a walk," said Dr. Lewis.

If you do need to let your pet out, make sure to pay attention to them. Dr. Lewis says they'll let you know if something is wrong.

"Oftentimes, animals when it gets too cold will hold up their paw. That means their paw is really hurting. Usually, it's from that really cold weather. Sometimes it can be ice that accumulates inside their paw pads, in between their pads," said Dr. Lewis.

The Animal Humane Society also shared the following tips for keeping pets safe during cold weather:

  • Once temperatures dip into the single digits or below, always keep cats indoors and only take dogs outside for quick bathroom breaks.
  • If your dog starts lifting their paws or shivering, take them back inside immediately. And be sure to remove all ice, salt, and caked snow from your pet's paws and coat.
  • To protect your dog's paws, consider using booties or paw wax.
  • Know of outdoor cats in your neighborhood? You can help them stay warm during cold snaps by building an outdoor cat shelter.
  • If your dog has energy to burn, help them stay mentally and physically active inside using brain games, like food puzzles, destruction toys, and treasure hunts. Obedience training and specialty classes can be a great outlet for your pet's energy as well.
  • Watch out for antifreeze spills -- it's a sweet-tasting fluid and one lick can be fatal to animals.
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