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Published: Nov 09, 2012

In several states in the U.S., snow has already fallen, which means pet owners should be thinking about how to care for their four-legged companions during the winter season. If you adopted a dog in the past few months, there may be some items you need to stock up on to make sure your pet is set until spring arrives, so here are some tips.

What you need for walks
Walking outside in the winter isn't always a treat, but it's important to make sure your dog gets regular exercise 365 days a year. You may have seen some dogs walking around with jackets, which can look a bit silly, but sometimes it's necessary. While canines who have big, heavy coats will likely be fine outside during walks, dogs who have short fur or none at all might need an extra layer to ward off the cold. Other dogs may not like the wetness of winter weather, and will appreciate a jacket that protects them from snow or rain.

Speaking of which, if you live in an area where there's lots of snow, then you may want to buy protection for your dog's paws. It's not the actual snow itself that can cause your canine harm, but rather the salt that some people put out to help break up ice on sidewalks and driveways. Sometimes, this salt can cause pain in dogs if it gets wedged between the pads of their paws. You can invest in booties for your dog, or a salve that helps protect her pads. Visit a pet health clinic to see if your vet has any recommendations.

Always be prepared
Remember that blizzards and ice storms can cause power outages during the winter months. If you live in an area prone to such natural disasters, you'll need to stock up not only for yourself, but also for your pet. Be sure that you have plenty of food to keep her satisfied for at least a week, and ask your vet for extra pet medications if your pet has an illness that requires regular treatment, such as diabetes insipidus in dogs.

While some dogs may become more relaxed and content to laze around in the winter, especially if you keep your house warm, be sure that such behavior isn't an indication of an illness. If your dog suddenly seems to lack energy or appears depressed, it's essential that you bring her to one of the nearby vet clinics for medical attention right away.