The following guidelines from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals will help you protect your companion animals when the mercury dips:
1. Keep your cat inside. Outdoors, felines can freeze, become lost or be stolen, injured or killed.
2. During the winter, outdoor cats sometimes sleep under the hoods of cars. To prevent injury or death, bang loudly on the car hood before starting the engine to give any area outdoor cats a chance to escape.
3. Never let your dog off the leash on snow or ice, especially during a snowstorm. Dogs can lose their scent and easily become lost.
4. Thoroughly wipe off your dog's legs and stomach when he comes in out of the sleet, snow or ice to protect him from ingesting salt, antifreeze or other dangerous chemicals.
5. Never shave your dog down to the skin in winter, as a longer coat will provide more warmth.
6. Never leave your dog or cat alone in a car during cold weather.
7. Puppies do not tolerate the cold as well as adult dogs, and may be difficult to housebreak during the winter. If your puppy appears to be sensitive to the weather, you may opt to paper-train him inside. If your dog is sensitive to the cold due to age, illness or breed type, take him outdoors only to relieve himself.
8. If your dog spends a lot of time engaged in outdoor activities, increase his supply of food, particularly protein, to keep him, and his fur, in tip-top shape.
9. Like coolant, antifreeze is a lethal poison 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.
10. Make sure your companion animal has a warm place to sleep, off the floor and away from all drafts. A cozy dog or cat bed with a warm blanket or pillow is perfect.