GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – With fall weather here and winter weather being so bone-chillingly close, people often assume their pets can handle the cold due to having fur. That assumption is wrong.

If you are wondering what would be the best option for your furry friends, PetSmart has offered up a list of six tips for you and yours truly.

Take caution when outdoors

When temperatures reach levels of extreme cold, limit outdoor walks and monitor your pet’s behavior for signs of stress or discomfort. Letting your dog outside to use the bathroom or go for a quick walk is okay, but never leave a pet outside for a long period of time, especially during a winter storm. Directly after a storm, it’s important to keep an eye on your pet as well.

Don’t let your dog off its leash after a snowfall, as the snow can mask familiar scents and can cause your pet to become disoriented or lost if they were to get too far away.

Add extra layers

Despite efforts to limit time outdoors, your pet will need to head outside for bathroom breaks and exercise. Pets that are small, short-haired, old or have any health issues or illness may be more sensitive to the cold weather.

Pet sweaters aren’t just for fun, they also help to keep your pet warm. If your pet is shivering, that’s a sign they need some extra layers like a sweater or coat. To help keep in body heat and protect their paws from the extreme cold, consider using booties on their paws when venturing outside.

Watch out for hazardous chemicals

Many people use snow-melting products like deicers, antifreeze and salt which can cause skin irritation, and if ingested by your pet, can be fatal. Pet parents should be sure to keep an eye on their pets when they are outside to be mindful of hazards. After a walk, it’s important to thoroughly rinse your pet’s paws and stomach, especially after walking in areas where these products are frequently used.

Keep skin protected

Just like humans, many pets get dry skin during the winter. When they need a bath, try using a pet-friendly moisturizing shampoo to help keep their skin healthy and hydrated. If your pet’s skin seems extra dry, supplements like fish oil can be added to your pets’ food or specialty treats that can help the skin and coat. It’s important to keep an eye on their skin health and check with your vet if any issues persist as it could be a sign of a larger issue.

Don’t forget about your pets’ paws and nose. These areas can get especially dry in the winter months — try a pet balm or wax for protection.

Have an emergency plan

While creating emergency kits in case of a storm or power outage, don’t forget about your pet’s needs. A pet’s kit should include the supplies needed to keep them fed, warm and secure during emergency conditions like blizzards or extreme cold. Items like sweaters, insulated vests, paw booties, pet-safe ice melt and a heated bed or pad can help avoid risks associated with freezing temperatures.

Gather any other care items your pet may require such as medications, puppy pads, waste bags, litter box supplies and calming spray.  We also suggest storing a one-week supply of food in a waterproof container along with bottled water and portable bowls, as well as a list of feeding routines and behavioral considerations in case others need to provide your pet with care.

Ensure identification information is current

While winter emergencies may add to the importance, it’s crucial that your pet wears a tag displaying your phone number year-round. Microchip and register your pet with current contact information, and tuck a copy of their vaccination and medical records, veterinary contact information and a current photo of your furry friend in your emergency kit, in case needed.

For more information on what to get for your pets, click here.