Well, it seemed like it took forever, but Winter seems to have finally arrived in Abilene. And while many folks in the 'Key City' prepare to keep themselves warm, let's not forget about our furry friends who don't have the ability to fend for themselves.

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Dogs, cats, and other furry little animals don't have jobs. So it's silly to think that they can just go buy a heater or one of those nice designer jackets to run around in. Heck, they don't even have thumbs so they couldn't drive themselves to go buy anything even if they had a job. I know, it's crazy.

In all seriousness, it is important that you take the time to make sure your furry little friend stays warm, regardless of whether you keep them in the house or outdoors. Here are 10 tips to help you do just that.

1. Understand Your Breed

It's always important to know what are the ideal conditions for your breed. Short-haired breeds might do badly in cold weather, while other breeds actually adapt to the cold air. For instance, a Siberian Husky might be good in the cold, while a little poodle would freeze its little paws off. Also, consider your pet's age as well. Older animals get colder more easily which makes them grumpy. And nobody wants to hang out with some grumpy animal.

2. Provide A Good Shelter

If you keep your pets outdoors, make sure they have some sort of shelter to help keep them warm. Of course, If you don't have a shelter for your pet during extreme weather where temperatures are super low, it is best to just keep them inside. You can always use a kennel if you are worried about them trashing the house. Besides, who doesn't want to hang out with 'Fido' and watch the latest episode of 'Cobra Kai'?

3. Provide Extra Bedding

Once again, if you just absolutely have to have your pet outside, you'll not only want to provide them with a good shelter but also lots of bedding. Old blankets, straw, even old clothes can go a long way to help your pet stay warm. Remember, dogs and cats can get frostbite just like humans can.

4. Don't Overfeed

Pets obviously need food for energy and warmth, but, if you have an indoor pet, there is no need to feed them extra food or you'll just make your pet overweight. Now, if they are outside, you might want to give them a little extra. Talk to your vet to find out what your pet's energy needs are. Also, make sure they have plenty of clean, and unfrozen, water. You can buy heated water dishes for your pet if you need to.

5. Keep Your Pet Groomed

Your pet's full coat is the source for being able to stay warm. So, it's important that you keep your pet groomed. A matted coat is not a good way of keeping out the cold rain or snow. And, you definitely don't want to shave your pet's coat. Just simply make sure they are brushed out and groomed. Also, make sure that you trim the hair around their paws. This will prevent ice or snow from balling up between their paws, which could cause cracking or cuts.

6. Pet Clothing

You can get canine clothing for any size dog, not just the little toy dogs. Whether they are store brought or even made, canine clothing will help keep your pet warm. You can even buy special booties for your pet to cover their paws. Also, if you put salt around your house to help with slick spots, remember that your pet's paws can get irritated. So, it's important to make sure that you wipe off their paws to avoid that. They also make clothing for cats too. But, good luck putting that on.

7. Take Shorter Walks

Even when it's cold outside, your pet still needs plenty of exercise. However, if you are going to walk them outside while it's cold, make it a shorter walk. If it's just simply too cold outside, you can play indoor games like tug-of-war, fetch, or anything that will keep them moving. My boxer loves to play the game 'Find all 27 bones under the couch'. Also, make sure to keep your dog on a leash if you are walking them outside. Dogs can become disoriented, and if they get away from you, it may be hard to track them down. Plus, in some places, it's a law.

8. Never Leave Your Pet in a Vehicle

As always, you never want to leave your pet unattended in a vehicle no matter what the weather is like. When it is cold, your vehicle will act as a rolling freezer with temperatures becoming dangerously cold.

9. Keep An Eye Out For Any Illness

Just like humans, dogs and cats can catch a cold or other sorts of illness from the frigid weather - especially if they are very young or very old. If you think your pet has caught some sort of illness, see your vet immediately.

10. Limit Baths

If you routinely give your pet a bath each week, you might think about cutting back just a tad. This will help keep away severe cold problems. If you can't avoid giving them a bath, just make sure that you use warm water, and you dry them off completely.

PLEASE HELP THESE ANIMALS AT THE ABILENE SHELTER

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