.Brrrr---it's cold outside!  If you have pets, I'd like to offer several suggestions to protect your companion animals when the mercury dips.

1.  Keep your cat inside.  Outdoors, felines can freeze, become lost or be stolen, injured or killed.

2.  Thoroughly wipe off your dog's legs and stomach when he comes in out of the sleet, snow or ice. He can ingest salt, antifreeze or other potentially dangerous chemicals while licking his paws, and his paw pads may also bleed from snow or encrusted ice.  .

3.  Never leave your dog or cat alone in a car during cold weather.  A car can act as a refrigerator in the winter, holding in the cold and causing the animal to freeze to death.

4.  Puppies do not tolerate the cold as well as adult dogs, and may be difficult to housebreak during the winter. If your dog is sensitive to the cold due to age, illness or breed type, take him outdoors only to relieve himself.

5.  Make sure your companion animal has a warm place to sleep that is off the floor and away from all drafts.  A cozy dog or cat bed with a warm blanket is perfect.