Winter can be hard on our pets. As temperatures drop, winds start to howl and snow starts to fall, it’s important to protect our pets from harsh weather. Here are 5 tips to help keep your pets warm, cozy and healthy this winter. 1. Protect those paws! Walking on frozen surfaces can lead to dry, cracked pads, and salt and chemicals used to remove ice can cause painful burns. If your dog will wear booties, they can provide protection during winter walks. If not, be sure to gently wipe their paws with a warm, wet towel when you get back inside. The same goes for cats after they venture outside. Ointments and balms specially formulated to help moisturize dry pads can also be helpful during the winter, but be sure to find a vet for recommendations before purchasing. 2. Cut back on the baths. Shampoos not only clean your pet’s hair or fur, they also remove the natural oils from their skin, which can cause itching and flaking. While replacing those oils with lotions and moisturizers during the dry winter months is easy for us humans, that’s not the case for our furry friends. That’s why it’s best to bathe your pet less frequently until spring arrives, if possible. If your pet has allergies or another condition that requires regular baths, ask your vet to recommend a shampoo with extra moisturizers to help prevent dry, flaky skin. 3. Prevent access to heat sources. Spots like fireplace hearths, floor heating vents and radiators can be tempting spots for your fur buddy to curl up and take a snooze (especially your cat). The burn risk they pose makes them unsafe, however, so make sure to make them inaccessible to your pets. 4. Consider their diet. Depending on both the weather in their area and their activity level, some pets may need more calories during the colder months, while others may need fewer. This is a great time to talk to your vet about both the type of food — and how much — you’re feeding your dog or cat so they maintain a healthy weight during the winter. 5. Create a winter weather emergency kit. If you live in a part of the country where winter storms could make leaving the house difficult — or impossible — for days on end, make sure to gather all the supplies you’ll need to keep your pet comfortable while you hunker down. It should include everything you and your pets might need if your utilities are knocked out including extra food and medications, bottled water, extra blankets for warmth and toys to help you pass the time. You should also create a smaller version for your car in case you and your furry friend get stranded on the road during a storm. Find a vet and ask your veterinarian about Home Delivery of your pet’s medications and food to make stocking up for emergencies more convenient.