Advice on Keeping Your Pets Warm and Healthy in the Winter

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Even though the groundhog predicted a short winter, Nebraska is receiving a lot of chilly days. With these low temperatures, animal care experts are asking people to take extra care of their pets.

First and foremost, experts say pets need adequate shelter, plenty of fresh water, and additional food.

"The food that you need to feed them now needs to have high protein because when they're working to stay warm, they're using more energy, so there isn't going to be much retained in the body as it does in the summer," explained Laurie Dethloff of the Central Nebraska Humane Society.

The Humane Society says owners need to anticipate cold temperatures and make accommodations as needed.

"Just like people they can get hypothermia, they can get frostbite. So definitely make an effort to put your animals inside when the temperature drops below zero," said Dethloff.

Experts say winter road conditions can also be very dangerous to pets.

"The black ice and the slipping and falling that people have can also tear tendons with animals, so if they became lame, that would be something you need to look at. Also with the salt that's put on the sidewalks, that can affect their feet and create cracks and sore feet," explained Dethloff, suggesting sweaters to add insulations and booties to protect your pets' feet.

Animal care experts say it's also essential to groom your pets in the winter.

"It's important to your pet's general health. A clean dog doesn't open up itself to bacteria, whereas dirty dogs get scratched, get bacteria under the skin," said Amber Grossart of Pupsi Daily Grooming Salon.

Groomers note that snow and ice can cause severe damage to your pets' paw pads and advise drying your pets' feet if they get wet from rain or snow in order to prevent tiny cuts and cracks.

"With the paw pads, you want to keep those shaved on dogs that have longer coats. Over time the hair grows between the paw pads and it needs to be shaved out because it can become matted. The mats get really hard, and then it's like walking around with a rock in your shoe," Grossart said.

Another key danger to animals in the winter is antifreeze. Experts say while it may smell and taste good to pets, it is highly poisonous and can be fatal.