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Brr. Be Wise, Winterize Your Pets!

This winter has brought,  and continues to bring record-breaking cold temperatures across North America and Europe. I want to check in and remind you how important it is to keep your beloveds healthy and warm outside and in!How do we protect their insides and their outsides?

Outside In Tips

Obviously, when it's cold, we need to be conscious of our animal's physical warmth.

* Don't walk them or leave them out as long. Be aware that they are bare footed. Ice, snow or just frozen ground is not terribly inviting and can be downright painful, unless you're a northern breed with a nice think coat and feet designed for cold climes.

* For huskies, malamutes, Samoyed's, spitzes, and cold weather is their favorite time of year! But if your dog is small and/or short-coated, be sure they are not left outside unless you have heated beds or dog houses.

* Some dogs love sweaters and coats, but be sure to take them off inside unless the house is kept cold, especially if you turn the heat down when you go to work.

Some will wear booties. These can be a great deterrent to ice build-up in between toes, insulate them from the cold pavement and provide some traction. Practice indoors on the kitchen floor and let them get used to them before heading outside.

* Cats are not cold-loving beings. Keep them indoors . Smart cats will always seek out the best sunny windows, spots by the fire and rugs closest to the heating vents! If you care for outdoor cats, supply Igloo-type houses for strays and ferals. If you put towels inside, check them daily to be sure they are dry and clean.

* Horses, donkeys, especially young ones, ill ones and elders, may need blankets, and will need shelter to go into when there's wind, snow, ice and cold.

* Be sure outside water doesn't freeze and remember, eating cold foods disturbs digestion.

Inside Out Tips

Speaking of cold water, cold food and water tend to negatively effect or shut down digestion. in Holistic, Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine, drinking ice water or other cold drinks are strongly discouraged. The same goes for our animals.

* Never feed your beloveds cold food right out of the frig. I always boil a little water and mix it into canned or raw food. It helps the food smell more appetizing, feels better going down and digests better. Better digestion = better absorption = better nutrition.

* Give them room temperature water, not cold. Never leave dogs outside without available water. If the water in their bowl might freeze, don't leave the dogs out!

Warming Foods

In Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine, food is critical to balance and healing.  In Chinese medicine there are cooling meats, warming meats and neutral meats, as well as herbs, spices, fruits and vegetables that are either warm, cold or neutral. Correctly chosen, these foods provide the foundation for healing every condition or disease.

Winter is the time for warming or neutral foods for our beloveds, as busy bodies need more calories to keep warm. 

* Look to healthy fats (butter, chicken, ghee, goats milk) and meats like chicken, pheasant, lamb, venison and ham to warm them. Turkey sometimes appears as warming and sometimes not, since it's not native to China.

* Beef, pork, bison, salmon, tuna, wild rabbit are neutral. Cabbage, sweet potatoes, carrots, apples are also neutral.

* Pumpkin, squash, asparagus are warming.

* Fall squashes like pumpkin, acorn, spaghetti, etc. are also designed by Nature to help those who consume them put on fat for the winter, so use sparingly if your dog or cat is overweight.

NOTE: Please be mindful of your animal's health and constitution. If your animal is experiencing inflammation, hot spots, dry, itchy skin, you DO NOT want to add warming foods as they will add more heat to an already "overheated" body.

Learn more about how to re-balance them ASAP. Get with a vet trained in holistic modalities for optimal results. Click on and check out the Holistic Vet List if you need to find one in your state.

For more on Chinese medicine for dogs and cats, my favorite source is DVM Cheryl Schwartz's book, Four Paws, Five Directions. For more on western herbs, see my article, "Safe Herbs for Dogs and Cats."

If you want to discuss the best warming foods for your beloveds and your budget, let's talk! Click here to schedule now.

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