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Keep your pets safe during bitter cold weather

OKLAHOMA CITY - Winter is here, which means a lot of families will be staying warm indoors.

Meteorologists say cold air is expected to move through the state this weekend and send temperatures into the single digits.

Oklahoma City Animal Welfare is warning pet owners to keep their pets safe during the freezing weather.

“They need shelter so it’s really best to just bring them inside," said Crystal Wise with Oklahoma City Animal Welfare. "If you can’t bring them in the house, then bring them in a garage.”

The department released the following tips for pet owners:

  • Keep your pet inside whenever possible. Make sure your pet has a warm place to sleep, off the floor and away from drafts.
  • Always keep an ID tag on your pet's neck to make sure they don't get lost. If you lose your pet, visit animal welfare's website to see if they have been found.
  • If you keep your pet outside, ensure they have a warm, covered place to escape from rain and snow. Pay close attention to their water dish since it can freeze quickly.
  • During the winter, outdoor cats sometimes sleep under the hoods of cars. When the motor is started, the cat can be injured or killed by the fan belt. If there are outdoor cats in your area, bang loudly on the car hood before starting the engine to give the cat a chance to escape.
  • Thoroughly wipe off your dog's legs and stomach when he or she comes in out of the sleet, snow or ice after a walk. Dogs can ingest salt, antifreeze or other dangerous chemicals while licking their paws. Their paw pads may also bleed from snow or encrusted ice.
  • Never shave your dog down to the skin during winter. When you bathe your dog, completely dry him before walks. Also, consider getting a coat or sweater with coverage from the base of the tail to the belly for short-haired breeds.
  • Never leave your dog or cat alone in a car during cold weather. The car can act as a refrigerator in the winter, holding in the cold and causing the animal to freeze to death.
  • Puppies do not tolerate the cold and may be difficult to housebreak during the winter. If your puppy appears to be sensitive to the weather, you may want to paper train the puppy inside or only take them outdoors for bathroom breaks.
  • If your dog enjoys spending time outside, give them more food than usual to help them grow a thick fur coat.
  • Like coolant, antifreeze is lethal for dogs and cats. Be sure to thoroughly clean up any spills from your vehicle, and consider using products that contain propylene glycol rather than ethylene glycol.