Detroit Dog Rescue launches Operation Chilly-Dog with 11 tips to keep your dogs safe this winter

DETROIT (WXYZ) - If it feels too cold outside for you today, it's also too cold for your pet.

The arctic weather across Metro Detroit this week is keeping many people inside their homes. And with more snow on the way, Detroit Dog Rescue wants to remind pet owners to make sure their four-legged friends are safe and comfortable as well.

According to the Rescue, protecting dogs from exposure to extremely cold air is no different than the way we protect ourselves.

The group's Dog Days of Winter community outreach program works to educate pet owners on how to best care for their pooches.

Here are 11 of the group's best tips to keep in mind.

1. Doggie Fitness and Relief: It's no secret that dogs love the outdoors. However, during the winter, pet owners need to limit the animals' time spent there. Protect your dog (or cat) from exposure by dressing it with an insulated vest, sweater and doggie boots to protect the paws and core.

2. Nutrition and Adequate Hydration: Dogs that spend time outdoors may need more calories to maintain their energy level during the frigid weather. Consult with your veterinarian before making any changes to the dog's diet. Additionally, make sure your dog has access to adequate water in a fresh, plastic bowl that is free of ice.

3. If Lost, Can Find: Detroit Dog Rescue responds to many calls for homeless and stray dogs, especially during the winter. Always keep a collar on your pooch and consider having a microchip implanted.

4. In the Dog House: If your dog must spend significant time outdoors, provide adequate sheltering and bedding by using a doghouse raised off the ground and stocked with straw (not hay) which will keep mold and bacteria down. Keeping your dog tied up in any way is not humane.

5. Pet Safety and Winter Hazard: Pets are prone to frostbite on their paws which results from prolonged contact with frozen ground surfaces. Be aware of harmful substances that can irritate paws including road salt and antifreeze products. Make sure to wipe down your dog's paws after it has been outdoors to prevent the accidental digestion of such products.

6. Don't Leave Your Dog in the Car: Never leave your animal in the car unattended during any extreme weather periods - hot or cold. Fur does not equate in the ability to withstand arctic temperatures.

7. Groom Regularly: A well-groomed coat will keep your dog properly insulated. Consider a sweater or coat for short or coarse-haired dogs. Meanwhile, long-haired dogs should have their paw hair trimmed to ease in cleaning and snow removal.

8. Housewarming Party: Keep pets inside and away from drafts. Keep space heaters out of reach, and make sure fireplaces have adequate screening. Never leave your pet alone with an unattended fire.

9. Puppy Power: Puppies do not tolerate the cold well and may be difficult to housebreak during frigid temperatures. If necessary, use an alternate means, paper-training your puppy inside if it appears sensitive to the winter.

10. Potty Patch Area: After shoveling your driveway, don't forget to also brush away your canine's favorite bathroom spot.

11. Best Tip of All: Keep your animals with you at all times during the winter months - inside with you and your family. Detroit Dog Rescue suggests that the happiest dogs are those who are taken out frequently for walks and exercise, but kept indoors the rest of the time.

For more information, visit www.detroitdogrescue.com or check out the group's Facebook page .

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