Humane Society shares cold-weather tips for pets

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) – When the weather starts getting chilly there are steps to take to keep your animals safe and healthy.

If you have outdoor dogs or cats, please bring them inside when the temps dip below freezing. If you live in a neighborhood with outdoor cats or feral colony, please be aware that cats will often try to find warmth underneath cars and even in the engine. When you go out in the mornings, bang on your hood or honk your horn before starting your car. This will scare away any critters and allow you to start your car safely.

Keep outdoor time to a minimum; allow your dog to eliminate and then bring him back into the warmth of your home. If you have smaller dogs with short coats, you can put a sweater on them when out on walks. This will protect them from the cold.

"Sweaters are not just a fashion accessory. If you've got a little short-haired dog like Gizmo here, you can put a little sweater on them when you take them outside. And make sure you're limiting their time outside as much as possible. Take them out, let them use the bathroom, and then bring them back in, especially if the temperature is below freezing," said Amber Mullins, with the Humane Society of the Tennessee Valley said in a 2016 statement. "If you absolutely cannot bring them inside and they are outside, try to put some hay instead of blankets in their doghouse, that just keeps them a little bit warmer and blankets get damp, so try to use hay."

Do not let your dogs off leash if there is fresh snow on the ground. The snow covers scents and he can easily become lost and wonder far from home. When you bring your dogs inside from walks, wipe down their paws and legs thoroughly. Many deicers are dangerous to pets, injuring their paws or can make them sick if they ingest it.