Western Colorado broke the freezing mark for the first time in weeks Thursday, but the weather will turn even colder than before for the next week, so take care of your animals in this very cold weather. Here are some things you need to do to keep your pets safe and warm during the severe cold weather.

Cats and Small Dogs: Keep your cats indoors until the very cold weather passes. For your small dogs, clear an area of your yard for them to do their business in so they are not in the snow going outdoors and do not leave them out for longer than is necessary. For more information on caring for outdoor cats, click here

Larger Dogs: If the dogs are indoor/outdoor dogs, clear an area in the yard for them to do what they need to outside. If they stay out for a little while, and have no shelter, make sure they have a clean dry area to lay down in the sun. Place clean cardboard on the snow so that they do not have to lie in the wet snow. You can use an old blanket also, but pick it up and allow it to dry when the dog is inside. If the blanket get wet and freezes, it is just as bad as the snow and ice.

If the dog stays outside all of the time, make sure they have shelter to get out of the cold and wind. A doghouse, shed, or if nothing else give them access to your garage. The garage is not the preferred option due to oils, fumes and chemicals, but if you make the dog a bed area in a corner away from the dangerous chemicals, it is better than being outside all day. For the doghouse, make sure the dog has clean, dry bedding to curl up in. This can be straw, old crumpled up newspapers or an old quilt or bedspread as long as they are dry.  Insulate the floor and walls of the doghouse with old cardboard boxes for additional shelter. Feed and water them 3 times a day instead of once to keep the food and water from being frozen most of the day. Your dog needs food and WATER to make the energy needed to keep themselves warm. For More information on caring for your outdoor dogs, click here.

Horses: Horses usually do OK in cold weather, but this week the nighttime temperatures will be well below zero, especially in the outlying areas and it will be windy unlike during the last bout of cold. If you can get and keep your animals inside for awhile, please do so. This will be very important at night when the sun goes down and the winds can pick up. Get your horses a protective blanket to wear if they remain outside to preserve their body heat. It is also very important that they have fresh food and unfrozen water. If they remain outside, have a heater installed into the water trough to keep it from freezing. For more information, Click here.

Remember that your pets have feelings too. If you would not be outside unprotected in the very cold weather, please do not force them to be out there either. Take care of your animals and they will be around to give you lots of love and joy for years to come. See the ASCPA website for more pet care information.