CLEVELAND (WJW) — As we prepare for a major winter storm, keeping our pets safe also takes some preparation.

The Humane Society reports that there are five key ways to protect pets during winter weather:

1. KEEP THEM INSIDE!

Cats and dogs should not be left outside, even if they are accustomed to roaming around. Dogs enjoy walks and exercise but should be kept inside otherwise.

2. BUNDLE UP

Windchill can threaten your pet’s life as their exposed skin (noses, ears, paw pads) are at risk for frostbite and hypothermia.  Short-haired dogs typically enjoy wearing sweaters during extreme cold.

3. WIPE DOWN PAWS

Rock salt and other ice-melting chemicals can cause irritation to your pet’s paws and their mouth if they lick their paws.  You should wipe down their feet after adventures outside.

4. REMOVE POISONOUS SUBSTANCES

Wipe up any poison spills, such as antifreeze or household chemicals, as well as rock salt.  These can cause harm to your pet if consumed.

5. PROVIDE MAKE-SHIFT SHELTER TO OUTDOOR ANIMALS

Outdoor animals need protection, just like your family’s pet. Cars are often a hazard to small animals during winter as their warm engines attract cats and wildlife. They often hide inside car hoods, so it is advised to bang on your hood before starting your engine.  You can also make a simple cat shelter using a plastic tub.

Ohio law requires pet owners to give them adequate food, water and shelter.  It also states that it is illegal to leave your pet outdoors in extreme weather.  The law reads in part:

“Impound or confine the companion animal without affording it. during the impoundment or confinement, with access to shelter from heat, cold, wind, rain, snow, or excessive direct sunlight if it can reasonably be expected that the companion animal would become sick or suffer in any other way as a result of or due to the lack of adequate shelter.”

Humane officers can take pets away from owners who don’t provide their animals with these necessities. Violators could also face fines or jail time.

If you have any questions or need advice regarding pets and winter weather,  contact the Cleveland Animal Protective League at (216) 771-4616.

The Cleveland APL provides shelter to animals relinquished by their guardians, animals that are rescued from abuse or neglect, and stray or abandoned cats.