According to the calendar, winter has officially started, and it seems though Bismarck and North Dakota are getting our fair share of the brutal cold. This year seems especially harsh in comparison to the last two years in Bismarck, and with the possibility of another snow storm for the Christmas Holidays, we thought it would be a good time to go over cold weather tips for our pets.

As with humans, our pets and livestock need shelter and protection from the elements of the cold. Some of these tips are common sense, it's always good to make sure we are providing the most protection and shelter for our critters. Here are some safety reminders-

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  • Pets are safer indoors in freezing weather.
  • Dogs need outside exercise, limit their outdoor exposure and be sure to check their paws, as they are susceptible to frost bite which bring us to our next point.
  • Limit time outdoors, especially to prevent frostbite on ear tips, paws and the end of the tail. You will notice your dog limping of holding its paw up off the ground, this could be a sign for the owner to check, if you suspect frost bite, seek the attention of a veterinarian.
  • If your pet lives outside, make sure they have shelter and some form of safety break from the wind, and make sure they have an off the ground cage. Include soft bedding or a blanket and even straw from hay will work well to hold the body temperature.
  • Don’t leave your pet alone in a car during cold weather. In the winter, a car is just a trap for the cold, which can cause your pet to freeze to death.
  • Provide plenty of water and food, they'll need the calories. Outdoor water supplies can freeze, make sure you check their water pan daily and you can purchase a pet water heater to prevent freeze over.
  • If you own a cat, be sure to always check under the hood of your car, as the heat of the engine is a perfect place for an outdoor cat to seek warmth.
  • It's perfectly acceptable to have your dog wear a sweater or turtle neck body suit and for outdoor walks, use the paw protectors (pads). They may walk funny for a while, but they'll get used to it and you'll enjoy the show of watching them.
  • For cattle and livestock, make sure the heard has shelter, water, and plenty of food and or hay.