By Audra Streetman

DENVER (CBS4) – With temperatures forecast in the single digits this weekend, Denver Animal Protection is reminding pet owners to make sure their animals are protected from the cold. Failure to provide pets shelter from the elements could lead to an animal cruelty or neglect charge, resulting in up to a $999 fine and a year in jail.

A dog out in the cold on Wednesday (credit: CBS)

Animal protection officers say the best way to protect pets from the cold is to bring them inside. If pets must be outside, Denver city ordinance requires they have adequate shelter, like a doghouse or similar structure that allows the animal to escape the cold.

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Denver Animal Protection offers these additional tips for pet owners:

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  • When pets come in from the outdoors, remove snow, ice, salt and other ice-treatment chemicals from their coats and paws. This will keep them dry, but also prevent them from ingesting the chemicals.
  • Check for cracks in paw pads or redness between toes. Massaging petroleum jelly into paw pads before going outside can protect from salt and chemical agents. Booties provide protection from irritation. Use pet-friendly ice melts whenever possible.
  • Temperatures can change quickly in winter, especially as the sun sets. It’s important to remember not to leave your pet in a vehicle for prolonged periods of time.
  • Don’t leave dangerous and potentially lethal chemicals like snow and ice remover or anti-freeze within your pet’s reach.
  • Check under the hood of outdoor vehicles before starting them up. Stray cats often look for refuge in warm engines.
  • Don’t shave your dog down to the skin in the winter as a longer winter coat will provide more warmth. If your dog is short-haired, consider getting a coat or sweater.
  • Pets burn extra energy by trying to stay warm in the wintertime. Feed pets a bit more during the cold weather months to help provide much-needed calories, but check with your vet for the proper amount, as too much can contribute to obesity and health issues. Ensure that they also have plenty of water to keep them hydrated and to prevent dry skin.

For more information about Denver’s Animal Protection ordinances and safety tips, visit denveranimalshelter.org.

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Audra Streetman