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Tips to keep your pets safe in the winter weather

Snow melt can irritate a pet’s skin, the Humane Society said.

ATLANTA — Many people have plans to keep the human family members safe and warm with the expected winter weather this Sunday, but people should also keep the furry family members in mind.

To help protect them from potential wind gusts, snow and ice, the Humane Society of the United States offered tips to prepare one's pet before any potential winter storm.

That includes not shaving pets so they have more fur for warmth and limiting their baths, which can dry out their skin. 

A lot of pet owners may not realize snow melt can irritate a pet’s skin and cause vomiting if an animal licks too much of it off. That’s why those with the Humane Society of the United States recommend wiping off a dog’s tummy and paws each time they come in. Pet owners should make sure to clean between each paw pad, a spokesperson with the Humane Society said.

“When they're walking on it, it's hard on their feet, it can get embedded in the pads of their feet. It can also be toxic for them," Diane Robinson said.

Diane Robinson, program manager for disaster response with the Humane Society of the United States, said snow melt can cause chemical burns on animal's paws. Pet owners can protect their pet by purchasing pet-safe snow melt. 

“You can usually find it anywhere you can find the snow melts. You know all of your home improvement stores: Lowe's, Home Depot and hardware stores that sell those kinds of things,” Robinson said. 

Another tip is to make sure one's pet is well hydrated when it comes inside. Pet owners should also set aside a warm place for the animal to sleep that’s off the floor and away from drafts.

“He does have a sweater. He loves to wear his sweaters," Bre'Anna Brown said. 

Bre'Anna Brown makes sure her 6-year-old dog Taz stays warm in the cold weather. 

“When I grab his sweater, he gets really excited to keep him warm," Brown said. "I make sure to completely dry him off in case he’s wet and things like that.”

Robinson said this is a good approach to take, even when the dog is enjoying the winter weather.

“There are going to be certain dogs that are going to love playing in snow as much as certain people love playing, so remember they can go out and have a good time and play, but you don't want them to be out exposed for too long and getting too wet," Robinson said. 

The Humane Society recommends keeping pets inside, especially when the temperature goes below 35. But if they have to stay outside, pet owners should make sure they're in an enclosure where the entrance is blocked off with material to keep drafts out.

“Instead of using blankets and towels and those kinds of cotton materials, use straw, so if they do have to be outside, you have an enclosure that's going to keep them off the ground," Robinson said. "It's going to keep the snow rain off of them."

Coming out of the cold and into one's warm, dry home can cause a pet’s skin to itch and flake. Pet parents are encouraged to keep a humidifier in their home and keep it running until the home has between 35 and 45 percent humidity. 

Click here for more winter weather cold weather tips from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.