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Cold can stress out your pets

January 02, 2003|by PEPPER BALLARD

Cold weather can stress pets out, depleting them of nutrition and leading to weight loss and illness, but the effects can be combated with warmth and good food, veterinarian Alan Oliver said.

Dogs and cats need food with higher nutrient levels in colder weather because their metabolism rises, keeping them warmer but using up more energy and nutrition, Oliver, of Greencastle, Pa., said.

If dogs spend most of their time outdoors, they should have a dry shelter with protection against wind and precipitation, he said.

Concrete is a good material for doghouses, Oliver said.

"Cats roam around a little more freely," he said. "They seek out the right shelter."

Keeping pets hydrated during colder weather also is important. Water bowls left outside freeze over during low temperatures, he said. Dogs have no other way of getting water into their systems.

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"There are such things as heating water bowls, but they can be pretty pricey," Oliver said.

Oliver suggested pet owners should feed their pets more often to help avoid weight loss and potential parasite problems.

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