I have two dogs, Frank and Sally. My husband and I rescued them two winters ago. This time of year is always a reminder for me to take care of them much better than their previous owner. Pets are your family and should be treated as such. I did my research this year and found some really helpful tips on how to keep your pets safe in the winter weather.

It’s important to continue taking your dogs out for daily exercise, but be sure to follow this advice to protect their health. Cold, dry air along with sleet and snow can cause your pup to have itchy skin and chapped paws. Those are the least of the discomforts your pet can experience in the winter time. If they walk on roads that have been salted and then lick their paws, they can ingest very dangerous chemicals.

When coming into the heat of your home, your pets skin can dry out causing flakey, itchy skin. Keep a towel by the door to pat them dry and remove any snow that gets caught between their foot pads. It’s also good to keep your home humidified as well.

If you have a pet that gets groomed regularly, be sure to tell the groomer not to cut their hair too short. A longer coat in the winter will provide more warmth. If your pet has short hair, consider purchasing a sweater or coat that comes up around the neck and extends from the base of the tail to their belly.

When you’re taking your pets outside, bring along a towel to dry off irritated paws. When you get back home, be sure to wash (not just towel) off any ice, snow, and salt from the roads. In the same vein, you’ll want to limit the amount of baths you give your pets to avoid drying out their skin. Talk to you vet about a moisturizing shampoo they recommend.

If your pet allows it, put booties on their paws to protect their pads from the wintry conditions. Another option is to massage petroleum jelly into their paws before they go outside.

In cold weather, pets will burn extra energy to stay warm. Feed them a little more than normal to up their calorie intake and make sure they always have plenty of water.

And finally, remember, if the cold is too much for you, it’s more than likely too much for your pet. Keep your pets inside and provide them a warm bed to sleep in.