Last updated: January 06. 2014 3:56PM - 822 Views

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Many pet owners enjoy taking their four-legged friends with them when running errands. But when the weather is especially cold and harsh, pet owners may want to leave their pets behind in the warmth and comfort of indoors. There are other tactics to keeping pets safe when the winter arrives in earnest.

Keep pets indoors on cold days

Don’t allow pets outside when the temperature falls below 20°F, as pets are at risk of frostbite or hypothermia when exposed to such temperatures. Puppies, kittens and short-haired pets may be more susceptible to the cold and should be kept in when temperatures dip below 40°F.

Watch for symptoms of hypothermia

Even well-meaning pet owners may be unaware if their pet is suffering from the effects of too much cold. Here are some symptoms of hypothermia.

* violent shivering, followed by listlessness

* weak pulse

* lethargy

* muscle stiffness

* problems breathing

* lack of appetite

* rectal temperature below 98°F

* coma

* cardiac arrest

Companion animals may experience anything from discomfort to serious problems when cold weather arrives. Take precautions to keep pets safe and healthy all winter long.

Keep pets away from antifreeze

Antifreeze emits a sweet smell, which is often inviting to dogs and cats. But antifreeze is lethal in small doses, so it’s best to keep pets out of your garage and away from your driveway, where antifreeze may leak. Antifreeze can prove especially harmful to pets if it contains ethylene glycol as the main ingredient. There are safer alternatives, but even the safest antifreezes can be lethal when consumed in high quantities.

Protect their paws

Rock salt on sidewalks can effectively melt ice and snow. But rock salt also can be very irritating to pets’ paws. Remember to wipe your pet’s feet when coming indoors after walking on surfaces treated with salt or another melting agent. This will help to remove excess particles and prevent your pet from getting ill when the animal licks its paws clean.

Look out for animals seeking shelter

Outdoor cats and other animals may choose your car engine as a cozy place to spend the night. A warm engine provides enough heat to ward off the chill. You may have a cat under your hood and not know it. Beep the horn before starting the car to scare the animal away. Otherwise the cat could be severely injured when the car is started.

Do not leave a pet alone in a car

It is unwise to leave a pet unattended in a parked car. It may seem that the interior is warmer than outside, but the temperature in the car can drop quickly. Never leave a pet locked in a car, especially in harsh weather conditions.

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