Compassionate Dog Training
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Winter Precautions For Pets

Winter can be as brutal for animals as it can be to us humans. But if we take the proper precautions we can avoid our pets from being harmed by harsh weather conditions. Unfortunately, it is the irresponsible or uneducated pet owners that risk their pet's lives.

Last Saturday while visiting PetSmart in Vernon Hills, I saw a man inside the store with a beautiful Macaw perched on his shoulder. It was about 20 degrees outside. Surely, I though, he must have brought the bird in the store in a warm crate lined with blankets. I watched him pay for his items and then to my dismay and utter surprise he walked directly outside into the freezing cold with the bird still on his shoulder.

How could that bird owner not know that birds should not be exposed to any cold drafts let alone full exposure to the freezing climate? Responsible bird owners stuff towels under doors where their may be a draft, put a heater near the bird's cage and do not house their birds close to doors that lead to the outside. Most pet birds are from tropical conditions and not at all equip to handle the cold. They can get sick and die very easily from cold temperatures. As I watched this man walk out in the frigid cold with his bird I wondered, should I say something? I didn't but maybe I should have. While hopefully there won't be a next time, if there is I've decided I will speak up.

All pets- which include furry animals of all kinds- can get sick and die from over exposure to the cold. Their fur coats do not replace the warmth and shelter of a home. In addition to birds, small dogs, cats and dogs with short hair are especially vulnerable. Local pet stores have lovely sweaters for dogs. When going for a walk in weather below 40 degrees consider putting a sweater on your canine friend. Booties are an option for your dog if he has sensitive paws.

Anyone that has read my column knows I do not agree with letting cats outdoors ever, for their safety and that of others. But particularly in cold weather your cat should stay inside. Be careful about opening doors to the outside so your cat doesn't escape. With the blowing wind, the cold and snow your cat could become disoriented and unable to find his way home leaving him in a life and death situation.

So during the cold months play it safe and know your pet's limits. If you are unsure of what is best for your pet contact your veterinarian and ask for their advice.

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