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Pets

(BPT) - No matter how hearty and fun-loving your dog is, as a pet parent you know there will come a time when it's just too cold, snowy, icy, wet or windy for your pup to comfortably exercise outdoors. When the weather outside is frightful and the fire inside delightful, it's important to find ways to help your dog stay active indoors where it's safe and warm.

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(BPT) - It's easy enough for any dog lover to fall for the silky coat of the Golden Retriever, a Siberian Husky's striking blue eyes or a Dalmatian's spots. In fact, most dog owners say it was the look of a breed that drew them to bring home that puppy in the first place.

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(BPT) - Humans aren't the only ones that can suffer from asthma. As one of the most common respiratory diseases in cats, asthma affects about 1 percent of the domesticated feline population in the U.S. Cats between the ages of 2 and 8 are most likely to develop the disease.

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(BPT) - Bright colors aren't often associated with winter - but they can be. In fact, a backyard full of beautiful colors and cheerful chirps may be just a few feedings away.


Brighten the winter with the color of wild birds

If you've never fed wild birds before, winter is the perfect time to get started. Opening up your backyard to birds during the coldest months of the year means you are helping sustain them during a time when food and water are scarce.

"The winter months are especially tough on birds," says Seth Estep, vice president and divisional merchandise manager at Tractor Supply Company. "By providing them with a clean water source and food to eat, you'll not only enjoy seeing far more of them in your garden, but you'll also be helping them survive and thrive at a time when their natural resources are being threatened."

If you're interested in turning your backyard into a hotspot for birds this winter, consider these tips from the experts at Tractor Supply Co.:

The basics

Just like any other living creature, the survival of birds depends on their ability to find food, water and shelter. But as temperatures drop and winter months approach, the availability of these resources dwindles.

That's where you come in.

Attracting wild birds to your backyard is as simple as creating a space that includes these three essential elements. But remember, birds are quick learners and it won't take long for them to grow accustomed to your generosity. In other words, if you're going to open up your backyard to birds, it's important to continue providing them with food and water throughout the season.

Feeding

No two birds sing the same song; different types of wild birds prefer different things. Everything from the food you serve to the feeders you serve it in will vary depending on the species of bird you're dealing with. If you're not sure what types of wild birds are native to your area, visit the National Audubon Society's website to find out. Once you familiarize yourself with the specific types of birds that reside in your neighborhood, you can tailor your menu to serve their favorites.

First, focus on the feeder; Tractor Supply carries a number of different style bird feeders, but before making your selection, consider where your feeder will be located. For instance, feeders should be positioned approximately 8-10 feet away from shrubbery where predators may hide. They should also be placed in a sheltered area that's less exposed to harsh weather and strong winds.

Inclement weather and pesky predators aren't the only harrowing threat to birds. A dirty feeder can harbor many deadly illnesses, so you'll want to get in the habit of regularly scraping off bird droppings and disinfecting the feeding area. Make a quick and easy at-home solution by using one part vinegar and 20 parts water - just remember to wait until the feeder is completely dry before refilling.

Types of food

When it comes to wild birds, there are many varieties of feed to choose from. To attract a wide array of birds, consider black oil sunflower seed. You can also mix things up by using multiple feeders to serve different types of mixtures and blends. A great option to consider is Royal Wing TotalCare, which is available in four blends and specifically formulated to attract all types of species, including Woodpeckers, Nuthatches and Chickadees.

Royal Wing TotalCare also makes great products containing suet. Feed containing suet acts as a substitute for natural fat, which is not only difficult to find during colder months but, upon consumption, provides birds with the calories and energy they need to endure the harsh winter elements.

The importance of water

Finding fresh, unfrozen water can be even more difficult for birds than finding food during winter. One or two bird baths arranged around your yard can help ensure birds have an ample source of water for drinking and bathing - which is essential to help them keep their feathers clean for flying.

When temperatures fall below freezing, a birdbath with a built-in heating element can help ensure birds are able to find the water they need. If you already have a birdbath but it doesn't have a heater, consider buying a drop-in heating element that sits in the bottom of the basin. Another option suggested by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology is to place an incandescent light bulb inside a flowerpot and sit the basin on top of the pot. The heat from the bulb will help keep the water in liquid form.

Tractor Supply Company carries all the supplies a family needs to attract wild birds to their backyard, and during the month of October, the rural lifestyle store will be hosting Flocktoberfest where customers will receive great deals on products related to wild birds and poultry. To find a local store near you, visit TractorSupply.com.

For more ideas and tips on how to attract wild birds to your backyard, visit Tractor Supply's Know How Central.

(BPT) - For pet owners and their four-legged friends, interacting with other dogs provides great opportunities for exercise and socialization. Whether it's playing at the dog park, hiking through the woods, strolling around town or making new friends at doggy daycare, these activities can improve your dog's mental and physical well-being. They can also put your dog at risk for exposure to health threats.

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