Keep pets safe during a deep winter freeze by following these expert tips.

An arctic blast unfolded across the nation this past week, bringing a dangerous mix of sub-zero temperatures, fierce winds, and snow. With parts of the country continuing to face temperatures below freezing, BluePearl Pet Hospital is reminding owners to keep their pets safe.

“Like us, dogs and cats are susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia if left outside in freezing weather for an extended period. Prolonged exposure to frigid air, rain, sleet, snow and deicing solutions or treatments can also damage your pet’s skin and paws,” said Dr. Kevin Kelley, ER Service Head at BluePearl in Clearwater, Florida.

“As a general rule, keep pets indoors when temperatures begin to drop, provide heated shelters if kept outside, and shorten walk times for pets that have preexisting conditions requiring exercise restriction. Very young, geriatric, or ill pets are more susceptible to cold weather, so extra precautions may be necessary.”

Follow these expert veterinary tips to keep pets safe amid an arctic blast.

Keep pets indoors. Do not leave your pets outside or in a vehicle unattended during freezing weather. Consider shortening walks and limiting their time outside. Owners of senior or arthritic pets should be particularly cautious when going on walks, as these pets are more prone to falls on slippery surfaces. Pets with preexisting health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease or hormonal imbalances are more susceptible to cold weather as these conditions can cause temperature regulation issues. If you are unsure of your pet’s temperature limits, consult with your veterinarian.

Layer them up. If your pet has a short coat, is young, old, ill, or thin, or has a history of intolerance to cold weather, consider putting them in a sweater or coat. Remember that wet sweaters and coats can make your pet colder. Be sure to dry coats or sweaters after each walk or keep a few on hand to alternate when one becomes damp.

Watch for clues. Pets are very communicative. They will tell you if they are uncomfortable or cold, so be sure to watch for behavioral cues. Dogs who are cold may shiver and shake, lift their paws up off the ground one at a time, whimper, or try to get inside.

Wipe and dry after walks. Deicers, antifreeze and other toxic chemicals may be picked up on your pet’s fur and paws during walks. To reduce the risk of ingestion, use a warm damp cloth to clean off your pet from paw to tail after each walk. If you think your dog may have ingested deicer, antifreeze, or another harmful chemical, immediately contact the Pet Poison Hotline by calling 855.764.7661. A small fee may apply.

Be prepared. Create a pet disaster/emergency kit that includes a seven-day supply of pet food, water, potty pads (for those pets who may have difficulty going outside during severe weather) or cat litter, and medication. Be sure to include a list of local 24/7 emergency veterinary hospitals (include phone numbers and addresses both digitally and on paper should the power go down). Learn more about building your pet emergency kit.

Beware of car hazards. Before heading on the road, be sure to tap the hood of the car or honk the horn to protect any stray cats or wildlife that may have taken refuge underneath.

Most BluePearl emergency pet hospitals are open 24/7 and during holidays. Find your nearest BluePearl here.