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by Abigail Van Buren

Pets Need Proper Shelter During Cold Winter Weather

DEAR ABBY: When I heard the weather report for a nearby mountain community, I was reminded of an item I had clipped from a newsletter a few months ago. The temperatures are already down to freezing in some areas and soon will be downright cold in many locations. Responsible pet owners must consider that their pets need protection from inclement weather, so I dug out the clipping and hope you will print it as a reminder. -- HIGH-DESERT ANIMAL LOVER

DEAR ANIMAL LOVER: Thank you for sharing that item. Countless pets will thank you in the months to come. It should not be assumed that a dog's or cat's "fur coat" is sufficient protection from icy weather. Read on:

PROTECT YOUR PETS FROM WINTER'S WOES (Author Unknown)

In many parts of the country, winter is a season of bitter cold and numbing wetness. Help your pets remain happy and healthy during the colder months:

Do not leave dogs outdoors when the temperature drops. Regardless of the season, short-haired, very young or old dogs, and ALL CATS should never be left outside without supervision. Most dogs, and all cats, are safer if kept indoors, except when taken out for exercise. Short-coated dogs may feel more comfortable wearing a sweater during walks.

No matter what the temperature, wind chill can threaten a pet's life. A dog or cat is happiest and healthiest when kept indoors. However, if your dog is an outdoor dog, he/she must be protected by a dry, draft-free doghouse that is large enough to allow the dog to sit and lie down comfortably, but small enough to hold in his/her body heat. The floor should be raised a few inches off the ground and covered with cedar shavings. The house should be turned to face away from the wind, and the doorway should be covered with burlap or a rug.

DEAR ABBY: Thank you for printing the letter from the reader who suffered great injuries and was charged with DUI without the use of alcohol. A copy of that letter has been laminated and now hangs in our department. It will be shown to patients who give us the excuse, "I am OK to drive."

Also, please tell your readers not to drive after having medical procedures that involve sedation or anesthesia. As a nurse who works in an endoscopy unit, I encounter patients almost daily who insist they are "safe to drive" and that they have "done it many times before."

Patients who are to receive any type of anesthesia or sedation are instructed by the physicians to have a responsible driver to take them home. Please, Abby, through the power of your column, remind your readers to follow these important pre-procedure instructions. The medical staff who will prevent you from driving home are not trying to give you a difficult time; we are trying to prevent injury or death to our patients, or God forbid, an innocent bystander. -- DIANA PASINI-WOJNISZ, WILMINGTON, DEL.

DEAR DIANA: Thank YOU for a letter that's well worth space in this column. I hope that anyone who is having a medical procedure performed that requires sedation or anesthesia will take your letter to heart, and not attempt to get behind the wheel of a car until the medication is completely out of his or her system.

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