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Tips for pet owners

Prepare for winter

As the weather cools down and the night temperatures dip down towards freezing, consider these cold-weather pet tips. The frigid temperatures to come can pose serious threats to your pet’s wellbeing.

How long are you leaving your pets outdoors? Even though they have their own fur, pets can be vulnerable to the change in weather. Be sensitive to the temperatures.

If your pet has a short coat, it’s nice to put a sweater or coat on them on really chilly mornings to help keep them warm.

When having your pet groomed, ask for a longer cut for the colder weather. Keep the shaved look for the hot summer months.

Never leave your pet alone in the car at any time of the year.

If you use a space heater in a room of the house, make sure your dog or cat doesn’t lie anywhere near it. Don’t leave it on anytime with a pet in the room without your supervision. Your pet could knock over the heater.

For your sake as well as your pet’s, have your furnace checked for carbon monoxide leaks.

Take your pet in for a fall check-up. Your vet can tell you how hardy your pet is and if he has any health conditions that could make him feel the cold more. If your pet has a heart condition, arthritis, kidney disease or many other ailments, he shouldn’t be left outside for long in cold weather.

Litter lessons

The cat litter aisle in your favorite pet store is getting bigger and bigger. There are more brands and ingredients of cat litters continually being added to the assortment already out there. How do you decide which to use?

Many products on the shelves are still made of the natural clay litter that has been popular since the 1940s. Today clay litters, often the most affordable option, are available in clumping or non-clumping varieties.

But many cat owners are switching to a greener, more eco-friendly brand of natural litter, one that is perhaps made of soybeans, potatoes, wood chips, pine or corn. Some are available in both clumping or non-clumping varieties. Some of these varieties may last longer than conventional litters do before needing to be changed. However, some environmentalists say that none of these choices are perfect for the environment either.

If you’re thinking of transitioning to a new brand, know that there are many issues involved with changing litters in the middle of your cat’s life. Cats, known for their finicky habits, are usually loathe to change brands as they are used to the smell and the texture of their usual litter. If you change it, they may retaliate by doing their business outside the box. One way to get around this is to start by putting small amounts of the new litter mixed in with your old brand. Gradually add more of the new litter to the box, until you’ve trained your cat to like it. Good luck.

One greener option that is easy to adapt: use biodegradable cat pan liners to lessen your cat’s paw print on the earth.

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