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5 Winter weather safety tips for pets

Pets can suffer from exposure to extreme weather conditions, which can cause health problems. The ASPCA states that exposure to winter’s cold air can cause chapped paws and itchy, flaking skin, but these aren’t the only discomforts pets can suffer from.

More: Our love of pet sweaters says something surprising about our character

In a recent interview with Fox News’ Dr. Jeff Werber, a Los Angeles based veterinarian, said it’s crucial to remember pets can be as susceptible to cold-weather dangers as humans.

Shivering, a lowered heart rate, stiff muscles and dilated pupils are just some of the obvious signs that your animal companion is uncomfortable or lethargic, which may be related to hypothermia.

“The hard part about this is they don’t like to show their ailments or problems, and sometimes it can be too late,” Werber said. “The best treatment is to prevent.”

Here are some tips that will keep your pets happy and healthy during those cold winter months:

1. Keep the house at a reasonable temperature

It is best to keep the temperature of your home within reason. Try to keep the home humidified. Continuously going in and out in cold temperatures can cause itchy, flaky skin. In order to prevent this from happening, be sure to towel-dry your pet after coming inside from the rain or snow.

Be sure to pay close attention to those paw pads as well to prevent unwanted infections. Consider using petroleum jelly to remove small particles that could become embedded in between those precious little paws.

2. Animals have fur for a reason

Make sure you keep your animals warm this winter season. Groom them according to the breed of animal and the length of their coat. During those cold winter months, consider keeping the bathing to a minimum. Washing them too often can lead to dry, flaky skin from the stripping of essential oils that are required to keep the skin and fur healthy.

More: When to groom your dog (INFOGRAPHIC)

3. Keep your animals hydrated and well fed

Ever wonder why your pet is always begging for more food and water during those cold months? ASPCA states that pets burn extra energy as they try to keep warm in the wintertime.

More water means extra hydration. This will help with preventing dry skin. Increase the amount of food you provide for dogs left outside by 10-20 percent during the winter months. ABC 10 News Now states that extra calories are needed to help an animal survive.

4. Make sure to keep your animals warm

Always make sure that your animals have a warm place to sleep in an area away from the floor and the cold breeze. Make sure that they have a warm blanket and pillows for extra comfort. Always be aware of your animal’s body temperature — if they get too cold it may be time to bring them inside.

If they are left outdoors in extreme winter conditions for long periods of time, it could cause complications or even worse it could kill them.

5. Purchase proper clothing if necessary

Having a fur coat may not be enough for some animals to stay warm. If your dog or cat is naturally short-haired, consider purchasing a coat or sweater that will offer them the optimal amount of warmth. Muddy Paws suggests that knitted dog coats and jumpers are popular options, as they provide an extra layer of warmth when there’s a chill in the air.

Also consider purchasing a pair of booties to offer even further protection for animals who like to spend a lot of time outside.

Keep in mind that if it’s too cold for you, it’s most likely too cold for your pet.

More: Why your dog chews its paws and how to stop it

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