Our View: Protect pets from cold

While many have already been working to getting their cars, homes and families prepared for the impending cold weather, let’s not forget the importance of protecting our pets from the dangers of the season as well.

The American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals offers the following cold weather safety tips for pets.

— Keep your home humidified and towel dry your pet as soon as he comes inside, paying special attention to his feet and  between the toes. Remove any snow balls from between his foot pads.

— Never shave your dog down to the skin in winter, as a longer coat will provide more warmth. If your dog is long-haired, simply trim him to minimize the clinging ice balls, salt crystals and de-icing chemicals that can dry his skin. Don’t neglect the hair between his toes. If your dog is short-haired, consider getting him a coat or sweater with a high collar or turtleneck with coverage from the base of the tail to the belly. For many dogs, this is regulation winter wear.

— After each walk, wash and dry your pet’s feet and stomach to remove ice, salt and chemicals. Check for cracks in paw pads or redness between the toes. Winter walks can become downright dangerous if chemicals from ice-melting agents are licked off of bare paws.

— Massaging petroleum jelly or other paw protectants into paw pads before going outside can help protect from salt and chemical agents. Booties provide even more coverage and can also prevent sand and salt from getting lodged between bare toes and causing irritation.

— Like coolant, antifreeze is a lethal poison for dogs and cats. Be sure to thoroughly clean up any spills from your vehicle, and consider using products that contain propylene glycol rather than ethylene glycol.

— Make sure your companion animal has a warm place to sleep, off the floor and away from all drafts. A cozy dog or cat bed with a warm blanket or pillow is perfect.

— Pets burn extra energy by trying to stay warm in wintertime. Feeding your pet a little bit more during the cold weather months can provide much-needed calories, and making sure she has plenty of water to drink will help keep her well-hydrated and her skin less dry.

— Remember, if it’s too cold for you, it’s probably too cold for your pet, so keep your animals inside. If left outdoors, pets can freeze, become disoriented, lost, stolen, injured or killed. In addition, don’t leave pets alone in a car during cold weather, as cars can act as refrigerators that hold in the cold and cause animals to freeze to death. If you see an animal left outside in dangerous condition, politely share your concern with your neighbors or report it to local animal control.

As another winter quickly approaches, consider the safety of your furry friends, too.