Protect your pets: Tips for keeping your pets safe during Florida heat, storms & occasional cold

Severe Weather Center 9 meteorologist Brian Shields has tips on keeping your pet safe during the heat, the occasional cold and severe storms, such as hurricanes.

The ASPCA released tips for keeping your pets safe during severe weather conditions. For the latest weather updates, click/ tap here to download WFTV Channel 9′s Weather App.

HOT WEATHER:

Keep them hydrated: Give your pets plenty of fresh, clean water when it’s humid or hot outside.

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Know the symptoms of overheating: Increased heart and respiratory rate, drooling, excessive panting or difficulty breathing, mild weakness, stupor or collapsing. Severe symptoms can include seizures, bloody diarrhea, vomit and an elevated body temperature of more than 104 degrees.

Animals with flat faces: Pets like pugs and Persian cats are more susceptible to heat stroke since they can’t pant as effectively.

Never leave your animal in a parked vehicle: It leads to fatal heat stroke and it is illegal in several states.

Don’t let your dog linger on hot asphalt: When the temperature is very high, being so close to the ground, your pooch’s body can heat up quickly, and sensitive paw pads can burn. Keep walks during these times to a minimum.

COLD WEATHER:

Dry your pet with a towel as soon as he comes in from the cold: In the rare occasion when frost hits Florida, make sure the animal's feet are free of any ice or frost.

Don't shave your dog in the winter: A longer coat will better insulate your dog. If your dog is a short-haired pup, consider a coat or sweater with a high collar or turtleneck. Also, make sure it covers from the base of the tail to the belly.

Use petroleum jelly or other protectants on paws before going out: You can also use booties to protect the paws.

Feed your pet a little more during winter months: Make sure your pet has enough to drink. Pets burn extra energy trying to stay warm. The extra water can keep him hydrated and his skin less dry.

Make sure your pet has a warm place to sleep: Make sure your pet is off the floor and away from drafts. The ASPCA suggests using a pet bed with a blanket or pillow.

If it’s too cold for you outside, it’s too cold for your pet: Pets left outside can freeze, or become disoriented, lost, stolen, injured or even killed. And don’t leave them in a car. Cars can act as refrigerators, according to the ASPCA. They can hold the cold in and cause animals to freeze to death.

SEVERE STORM/HURRICANE:

Vaccinate your pet: Infectious diseases can become a big threat after a disaster.

Get your pet an ID tag: If a pet gets lost or escapes during the confusion of an evacuation, proper identification will increase the chances of a safe return home. The tag should include your cellphone number and, if space allows, the number of an out-of-town contact. Consider having your pet tattooed or microchipped.

Get a pet carrier: You will need a pet carrier or cage for each dog, cat, bird or small animal. Make sure it is large enough for each pet to stand up and turn around comfortably.

Take clear, color photos (frontal, left and right sides) of you with your pet: Store them with your pet’s license, medical records and ownership papers in a waterproof carrier to take with you. Include pictures of the pet with you to help with any challenge to your ownership. Take photos with your cellphone so they’re stored there as well.

PET DISASTER KIT

  • Medications and medical records (in a waterproof container)
  • A leash
  • A collar or harness for each pet
  • Non-spill food and water dishes
  • 14-day supply of food, water in unbreakable containers
  • A manual can opener
  • Grooming supplies
  • Your pet's blanket and a favorite toy
  • Cleanser and disinfectant to handle waste
  • Newspapers or litter, paper towels and plastic bags