Winter and cold weather are upon us and it is important to remember that our pets are susceptible to winter hazards just like people. There are precautions you can take to make sure your pets remain safe and healthy throughout the season.

Here are some cold weather tips to keep pets safe: Dogs, especially small shorthair breeds, suffer from the cold despite their seemingly warm fur coats. Therefore, it is a good idea to take your dog outside only as needed. When you are cold enough to go inside, they probably are too. For those times that they are out in the cold, a sweater may help keep dogs warm.

Snow and ice can disguise outdoor scents and dogs can easily become lost. More dogs disappear during the winter than any season, so it's best not to let your dog off its leash in snow or ice.

Cars can become freezing in the cold weather. It is not a good idea to leave your pet alone in a car during the winter season. Thoroughly wiping off your pet's legs and paws after being in the snow or ice will help prevent them from ingesting salt and other chemicals that could be harmful if swallowed.

Dogs run a good chance of catching a cold any time they get wet, so bathing your dog only when necessary is a good wintertime precaution. It's generally a good idea to keep your cat indoors year round, but especially during the winter months.

Keeping warm requires extra calories so it's a good idea to increase your pet's supply of food, particularly protein, to keep fur thick and healthy through the winter months. Animals that will be going outside during the cold weather need an increased diet to help them maintain body heat. To keep your pets comfortable at night, make sure they have a warm place to sleep such as in a basket or cardboard box with a blanket in it.

Enjoy the winter months with your pets and keep these tips handy to ensure their well-being.

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