GRAND RAPIDS, MICH. - Even though most animals are covered in hair or fur, it doesn't completely protect from the frigid temperatures -- especially when we reach the negative digits.
Some states even make it a felony to leave your pets in inclement weather.
"Probably the most severe problem would be like frostbite or hypothermia when you leave your animals really too long outside," Veterinarian Dr. Yookin Kim said.
Blue Pearl Animal Hospital sees pets come in with cold weather related illnesses pretty frequently.
"Make sure that you don't see any changes in the skin, and then if their ears, or paws or anything is changing to red, you should be careful that could be the first sign of the frostbite," Kim said.
While they may seem excessive, Dr. Kim suggests buying a sweater, a coat or even booties for your pooch.
"Actually they work pretty well, and then booties as well, so sweaters, coats, booties but remember that doesn't necessarily protect 100 percent from the cold weather," Kim said.
Perhaps shorten your walks and focus on indoor exercises.
"It's better to do like more frequent activities at a time, but shorter time, you know, rather than doing a long activity at one time," Kim said.
Another tip, watch out for salt piles and de-icers.
"Any de-icer could be dangerous especially it can cause some GI upset especially when they're ingested in a large amount," Kim said.
If you're cold, chances are your dog is, too.
"Humans get cold, and just like that animals can get cold as well -- just understand that and make sure that you don't let them outside too," Kim said.
Another tip is to be mindful of your pet's water bowl. Staying hydrated is very important in keeping their body warm.
Also, before you start your car in the morning, do a quick check of your engine to make sure a stray cat isn't curled up in there for warmth.
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