DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — The Humane Society of Greater Dayton is reminding pet owners to take caution when taking their furry friends outside over the next few days.

With the upcoming weather forecast being so severe, it is important to plan ahead to keep your pets safe as the temperatures drop. Here are a few of the Humane Society’s tips to keep in mind when it comes to your pet’s safety during this inclement weather.

Battle Cold Weather

With the exception of periods of exercise, it is recommended to keep your pets indoors as much as possible. This will protect them from the winter elements and help to avoid the potential risk of hypothermia. Consider dressing your pet in a sweater or wind-proof jacket for outdoor activities. This will help them retain their body heat and will also prevent their skin from drying out.

Whenever your pets go outdoors, you need to also protect their paws as much as possible. Booties can help lower your pet’s exposure to painful salt crystals and other ice-melting elements. If booties aren’t an option, try rubbing petroleum jelly into the pads of your pet’s paws before you go out. This will protect your pet from salts and other chemicals. When you bring them indoors wipe off their paws with a dry towel immediately, making sure to pay attention to between their toes.

Provide Proper Shelter

If your pet must be outdoors, provide them with well-equipped shelter that is dry, draft-free and large enough for your pet to turn around, sit and lie down comfortably. Avoid placing blankets or towels in shelters when it is cold. These items absorb the wetness and actually can harm pets more than keep them warm. Instead, use straw in shelters. This helps circulate air, stays dry and adds warmth and padding to your pet’s house.

Keep Pets Nourished

Make sure to feed your pets a little more food during the winter and give them plenty of water. This will help them produce the energy they need to stay warmer and will keep them hydrated, which will help moisturize their skin. Routinely check your pet’s water dish to make certain the water is fresh and unfrozen.

Bang Car Hood

Warm engines in parked cars attract cats and small wildlife, which may crawl up under the hood for warmth. To avoid injuring animals, bang on your car’s hood to scare them away before starting your engine.

Groom Your Pets

Animals with longer coats tend to have issues with salt crystals, snowballs or even de-icing chemicals clinging to their fur, which can dry your pet’s skin out. Keep fur trimmed to stop some of this from collecting on your pet. Don’t forget to also clip the hair between their paws.

Avoid Salt and Chemicals

Keep paws free of salt and other winter chemicals. The salt and chemicals used to melt snow and ice can irritate the pads of your pet’s feet. Wipe the feet with a damp towel before your pet licks them and irritates his or her mouth, too.

Avoid Leaving Them in Cars

A car can almost act as a refrigerator in severe cold temperatures, which can be harmful for your pets and can put them at risk of hypothermia if they are left alone in the cold car for too long.

Keep Antifreeze Out of Reach

Antifreeze is a deadly poison, but it has a sweet taste that may attract animals. Wipe up spills and store antifreeze where it cannot be accessed by pets. If your pet does ingest even the smallest bit of antifreeze, contact your veterinarian immediately or call the ASPCA’s Poison Control line at 888-426-4435.

If you witness animal cruelty or neglect, you can report it to the Humane Society of Greater Dayton here.