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CLEVELAND -- With the potential for historically low temperatures headed our way, it's important to take extra care to protect pets and animals during the dangerously cold weather.

Here are some tips to keep in mind.

Outdoor cats and other animals will seek heat wherever possible including your warm car engine. Bang on the hood or beep the horn before you start the car to get them out.

Antifreeze is deadly to pets. Keep it locked up and clean up any spills immediately. A few licks can be fatal.

Any pet that stays outside must have adequate shelter to protect them from the wind and snow. Use a heated water bottle wrapped in a towel and changed frequently to give them some warmth. If the shelter is waterproof, fill it with blankets, otherwise use straw that you can change every few days.

It is critical pets have access to fresh water. They cannot hydrate by licking ice or eating snow. Check the water frequently to make sure it isn't frozen or buy a heated water bowl.

For smaller pets, shovel a patch of grass for them to do their business, and if a short haired breed will wear a sweater, put one on them for added protection.

Salt can dry out your pet's paw pads. Wipe their feet with a warm washcloth when they come inside. Licking salt off of their paws can irritate their digestive tract and make them sick.

Just like you would use lip balm for chapped lips, rubbing a soothing bag balm on their paws can help with dryness and cracked pads. As your vet to recommend a brand or find it at the pet store.

If they will tolerate them, use booties to protect their paws, or at the very least trim the fur around their pads so they don't get snow packed in their feet. It can make them limp or lose balance.

If you must salt your own walkways, find a pet friendly brand that won't cause irritation. You can find it at most pet stores.

Long haired dogs and arctic breeds, like Huskies and Samoyeds, can tolerate the cold better, but they should never be left out for hours without supervision. Better yet, stay outside with them. When it's too cold for you, chances are good it's too cold for them too.

The bitter cold can especially be dangerous for old dogs with health issues such as diabetes and arthritis. Make sure you walk them in safe areas that are ice free so they don't risk falling. Talk to your vet about other issues to be aware of.

More Cold Weather/Snow Tips

Preventing frozen pipes

Cold weather and fire safety

Cold weather power outage tips

Preventing frostbite

Red Cross disaster preparedness

Watching out for the elderly

Protecting yourself in dangerous cold

Protecting pets in dangerous cold

More weather tools

Interactive Radar

iAlert closings

Traffic Updates

Snow driving tips

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