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Help your pets stay safe this winter

TRI-COUNTY AREA—When thinking about the health and welfare of your loved ones this winter, don't forget about the loved ones with paws.
Taking care of pets this winter and holiday season includes keeping them safe while outside and inside.  Don Cass, manager of the Yates County Human Society shelter, said for animals that go outside, if you find it getting too cold out, then your animal thinks so as well.  He said the animal shelter is letting their dogs outside for shorter periods of time because it is getting colder.
Georgie Taylor, president of the Schuyler County Humane Society, said it is state law that animals outside must be provided with adequate shelter, water at all times, and access to food.  Taylor said pet owners can be fined if a dog being kept outside does not have these.
Taylor added the Humane Society is working with organizations on collecting used dog shelters and building dog houses for people in Schuyler.  She said they are accepting donated dog houses in good condition.
Other possible threats to a pet outside include anti-freeze and road salt.  Taylor said anti-freeze is a poison to cats and dogs, so people should be careful when putting it in their car.  She also said that after bringing in a dog from a walk to wash and dry the animal's paws to get rid of road salt.  Cass said the salt hurts the animal's paws.
Threats inside the home are those brought in with the holidays.  Taylor reminded people chocolate is poisonous to both cats and dogs.  She also said that when it comes to poinsettias, it is best not to chance that it will harm your cat if they eat it.  The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) says mistletoe and holly can cause health problems if the pets eat it.  The ASPCA adds any type of lilies, because it can cause kidney failure in cats if digested.
The ASPCA suggests making sure the Christmas tree is secure.  That way it will not fall over, possibly injuring an animal, and the water from a love tree's stand is not spilled.  The ASPCA said that water can contain fertilizers, causing upset stomachs if drank, and other bacteria if stagnant.  Tinsel and confetti strings can get lodged in a cat's intestines if eaten.
While people will turn on the heat when at home, some animals will also be left home alone during the cold winter months.  Taylor said that cats in general have a slightly higher tolerance to cold than people do.  She explained having a covered cat bed allows the animal's own body heat to be relatively contained.  She added that two ways to keep an animal warm when the heat won't be on, is a space blanket or an electric blanket.  Taylor said both would provide pets with a warm place to rest.

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