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Published: Jan 30, 2013

For much of the country, the month of January has been frigid. If you're a pet owner living in a state going through a cold snap, you must take measures to ensure that your dog or cat is safe throughout the season. The Boston Globe recently provided some wintertime tips for pet owners.

Advice for dog owners
If you live in an area that is prone to ice, you should keep a towel handy while on walks. Salt and other products used to reduce slippage can cause pain in dogs, and if your animal should lick his paws or stomach after going out for a walk, he could ingest some of these harmful chemicals. The news source recommends putting olive oil on the dog's paws before you head out of the house and wiping it off when you return from the walk, though there are also products designed to protect your animal's paws when you're strolling.

Dog grooming is important throughout the year, but it's best to avoid cutting your pet's hair too short when temperatures are low. If you own a short-haired animal, it may be wise to purchase a sweater or jacket to keep his body temperature regulated while outside.

Some dogs are better-equipped for cool weather than others, so use your best judgment, or visit one of the local vet clinics to ask for advice. If you find your canine companion really hates the cold, then you may want to take him out exclusively so he can relieve himself. You'll need to find ways to exercise him indoors, however, to ward off obesity in dogs.

Advice for cat owners
If you have an outdoor cat, then you'll need to make sure she stays inside when it gets really cold. Cats can freeze if the temperatures are too low, and on top of that, they may struggle to find an unfrozen source of water on their own.

Other cats in your neighborhood who live outside may seek refuge from the cold under the hood of your car. This can be very dangerous if the engine is turned on, so before you start up your vehicle, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals recommends banging loudly on the hood. Additionally, remember that antifreeze is poisonous to both dogs and cats, even in small amounts, so keep this liquid away from your animal companion.

Tips for all animals
Whether you have a cat, dog or both, you can help pets stay warm by purchasing a heated bed for them to sleep on or providing them with extra blankets during the chilly nights, reports the Globe.

All animals should be kept away from frozen bodies of water, as you never can tell how solid the ice is. In the case of dog or cat emergencies that involve an animal falling through ice, you should bring your pet to the animal hospital right away.