LOS ANGELES -- If you are too cold to be outside without a coat, your dog probably is too. If your cat eats just one of your acetaminophen cold or flu pills, it could be fatal.
Those are just a few of the tips experts offer to keep pets safe this winter. Here are some other basic cold-weather precautions with pets from experts and animal welfare organizations:
-- Keep your dog leashed in the snow and make sure it has an ID tag. Dogs can lose scents in snow and get lost.
-- Keep your dog's coat longer for warmth. If you have a short-haired pet, get a coat or sweater with a high collar or turtleneck that covers it from the base of its tail to its belly.
-- Don't leave a pet unattended in a car. The vehicle can act like a refrigerator, holding in the cold and freezing your pet to death.
-- Puppies may be difficult to housebreak in winter. If weather bothers a puppy, try paper-training indoors.
-- Make sure your pet has a warm place to sleep, away from drafts and, if possible, off the floor.
-- Outdoor cats and wildlife will often sleep under hoods of cars. Bang on the hood before starting the car to give the animal a chance to escape.
-- Pets, like people, are vulnerable to hypothermia and frostbite. Get your pet to a vet if it is shivering, disoriented and lethargic or if its hair is puffed out and standing on end. Frostbite can turn skin bright red, pale or black. Skin at the tips of ears and on extremities, including reproductive organs, are particularly at risk.
-- Antifreeze can be fatal to a pet, even in small amounts. They will need immediate emergency care. Symptoms of antifreeze poisoning include drunk-like behaviour, vomiting, excessive urination, drinking and depression. Pets may appear to recover within a few hours, but the antifreeze continues to poison their systems and is often fatal. Don't ever dump antifreeze on the ground, and store it away from pets. If there is a spill, sop it up immediately.
-- Use pet-friendly versions of products that melt ice on steps, driveways and sidewalks. Products like Safe Paw and Safe-T-Pet avoid chemicals that irritate pets' paws (and their stomachs, if they lick their paws). The pet-friendly products are usually coloured so you can also see where you've sprinkled them.
-- Brush your dog regularly because heaters dry the air and deplete moisture from your pet's skin and fur.
-- Never leave a portable heater unattended with pets around.
-- The Associated Press