My family has had dogs for as long as I can remember. When I was growing up out in the country, most of our dogs were beagles. I don't know if it was just the way things were in the 1960s, but our dogs lived in a dog house year round. During the colder months, their dog house would have hay and blankets to keep warm, and let in the house during extreme winter conditions.

Thinking back to those days, if I had any control, which I didn't, our dogs would be living inside the house, not in a dog house. Ever since I've had dogs living on my own, they all live in the house and actually are more comfortable than I am most times, taking over the couch or a chair. No, I don't spoil my dogs.

With the fact that we are in the coldest part of winter, if you own a dog or dogs like I do, you want to take measures to keep them protected from the harsh elements. The most obvious is to keep them indoors except to let them out to do their business.

During the colder days, I put a coat on my dogs before they go outside. I have two Greyhounds and an Italian Greyhound, and they all are short haired animals, so there's not much fur to keep them warm. They don't much care for wearing coats, but it's for their own safety. You should see the routine I have to go through, especially with the Italian Greyhound. He loves to squirm a lot when I'm trying to get the coat on him.

Don't let your pets spend a lot of time outside in colder weather conditions. One of my Greyhounds loves to continually walk around the backyard looking for squirrels, woodchucks and stray cats. He doesn't care how cold it is. From time to time, I have to go outside and bring him back in. Pets can get frostbite and hypothermia same as humans.

Also, if you use ice melt or rock salt and it's in the path of your pets going in and out of the house, be sure to check their paws each time and clean any off any rock salt, ice melt, etc. They love to lick that stuff of their paws and it can be dangerous to their health. For the path my dogs run in and out of the back porch, I use pet safe ice melt only. It costs a bit more , but I think it's worth the cost.

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Not only that, but it's also against New York State Law to leave animals outside with insufficient shelter during extreme weather. According to state law, people who don't provide proper shelter to animals left outside during inclement are subject of fine that range from $50 to $250 for a single offense, and separate days of the being hit with a ticket makes that total go up. So probably the best idea would be to just bring in your dog when it gets cold.

[via New York State]

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