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Winter storm a danger to everyone, pets included

VALLEY — Some really frigid weather is in the forecast over the next several days or so.

According to the Weather Channel, nighttime temperatures will be in the twenties every night next week, and it’s possible there could be a few flakes of snow over the weekend. Winter Storm Frankie will be bringing a low of 29 on Saturday, 24 on Sunday, 21 on Monday, 24 on Tuesday, 23 on Wednesday and Thursday and 21 again on Friday. It’s a good idea to be prepared for those much-colder-than-normal nights.

Pet owners should err on the side of caution in taking care of their much loved animals.

We asked Shon Sims, director of the Chattahoochee Humane Society’s animal shelter for some advice on this.

“Pets should be indoors anytime the temperature drops below freezing,” Sims told us. “They should be protected in a dry, draft-free shelter that’s big enough to allow free movement but small enough to keep in body heat. Ideally, it should be floored with the bottom raised a few inches off the ground. It should have warm bedding inside, such as thick straw or a thick layer of cedar shavings in it. The entry should be offset to one side and covered with a waterproof flap, such as thick plastic or waterproof burlap, to help block out the wind.”

Sims adds that pets that are outdoors a lot during the cold-weather months will need food with a higher fat and protein content. “Keeping warm uses a lot of energy,” she explains. “It’s a good idea to keep a check on your pet’s water to ensure it’s not frozen and that it’s fresh. In the winter months, always use plastic food and water bowls. Their mouth and tongue can stick to frozen metal.”

Just like humans, pets can get frostbite and hypothermia. A thick coat does not necessarily mean that all body parts are protected.

“Keep a check on their paws after walks and free roaming,” Sims said. “It’s a good idea to wipe down their paws to remove any salts and possible antifreeze they may have walked through. These are highly toxic to your pet.”

Short-haired dogs, said Sims, may need a sweater when taken for a walk on a very cold day.