Colder weather brings with it some potential dangers for animals and house pets. Anything below 50 degrees is too cold for most pets, and local veterinarians are gearing up for animals who may experience winter or cold-related illnesses.


As the transition to cold weather begins, Sandy Reeves from the Lange Veterinary Hospital Clinic recently provided a few safety tips to help promote healthy pets.


Here are five tips for taking care of pets during the winter.


1. Vaccines are important


Things like rabies and Parvo that need to be kept in check year round.


Keeping pet’s vaccines up to date is the first step to maintaining the animal health. For cats, the main vaccine to keep up to date, aside from rabies, is the distemper.


Reeves said it is also important to keep an eye out for heart worm and kennel cough, too.


2. Keep animals out of extreme cold.


Outdoor pets should be kept in heated housing areas with protection from the elements for safety when the weather dips low.


Indoor pets shouldn’t be outside for periods longer than five to 10 minutes at a time.


Most dog breeds can handle being in cooler temperatures to an extent, but there are a few that have shorter hair and are more at risk, especially Great Danes, Reeves said.


While some people have heated dog houses, Reeves warned those are a potential danger if it snows.


3. Warning signs


If an animal’s behavior or personality changes noticeably, it is a sign they are feeling discomfort. Signs to watch out for are panting as if the animal is overheating even though the temperature is cold.


It is also important to keep an eye on the pads of a dogs paw. As the animal’s paw freezes, the pad can chip away.


She recommended getting pet socks for animals that will be out in the colder temperatures. Also, pay attention to changes in the animal’s eating habits.


4. Seek medical care immediately


Animals are as susceptible to the elements as humans, despite the fur coats many wear. If an animal is showing signs it might be feeling the effects of the weather. It is advisable to get to the vet as soon as possible.


Reeves said anytime there is something out of the ordinary or a pet owner is in doubt it never hurts to get to a vet and be sure.


5. Beware of predators


During the colder weather, predatory animals such as coyotes and bobcats will be on the prowl for food. Smaller dogs are especially at risk.