How to protect your pets from the cold

BOISE, Idaho (KBOI) - Some dogs just love to play in the snow. But leaving a dog or a cat outside for long periods of time in this kind of weather can be deadly.

"It's too cold for dogs and cats to be outside this time of year. When it goes below 32 I would bring them inside. If they're not used to being inside and they're not comfortable in the house, maybe in the garage. That's better than being outside below 32," says Dr. Cheryl Garrett, a veterinarian with the Idaho Humane Society.

It's important to keep a close eye on your pets water as well. In temperatures this cold it's easy for a water dish to quickly turn to nothing but ice.

Dogs can't drink ice. They can eat it, but it takes more energy from the body to melt the ice so it's actually detrimental for their health.

If an animal is left outside for too long they may start to show signs of frostbite.

"You might see it on their ear tip. They would look bluish or black. Their feet might become crusty. Maybe they can't move their feet," says Dr. Garrett.

Even more dangerous is hypothermia. Normally a dogs body temperature is right around 101 degrees, but if it drops to 96 they may start to act lethargic or even become comatose.

If this happens you need to take action quickly. If your dog is exhibiting any of these signs of hypothermia you want to bring them indoors as quickly as possible and wrap them up in blankets to try to bring their core body temperature back up.

It's okay to take your dog outside for some winter fun, but once you start to feel cold there's a good chance that Fido is getting chilly as well, even if he's not acting like it.