The weather tv personalities have cranked up the hype machine this week about a possible big snow storm on the mid-Atlantic coast. This might be a good time to think about pet snow do's and dont's.

Do keep a few large, dry absorbent towels stored in your car.

Humans go out in the snow wearing boots, gloves and warm coats to stay dry but your dog does not. Running through icy puddles and snow will take its toll once back in the car. Dry your dog off, remove as much loose snow as possible and put a dry towel on the floor of their travel crate. (Could you turn the heat up back here too? Thanks!)

Don't walk your dog while snow plows are operating in the area

Every year there are multiple accounts of pets and owners who are injured or killed by snowplows. Rear visibility from plow trucks is limited and plows often back up unexpectedly at high speed. Operators work long shifts and are under significant stress to get all their customers cleaned up. Factor in reduced visibility from blowing snow and you have a recipe for disaster. Wait until the plows leave the area and stay well away should they return before you get back inside.

Do keep your dog leashed if your yard is at all close to a road

Dogs love snow. Energy levels seem to magically increase 10 fold as they frolic. Some dogs run at high speed in circles. Others show no rhyme or reason, just run fast! Even the best behaved and trained dogs may, in a burst of exuberance, stray into the road. Find a park or other safe place to let them play in the snow. And do keep your eyes open and small children safely away to avoid a high speed collision.

Don't over do it!

Even for the most energetic, working breeds, running in deep snow requires significant exertion. Unfortunately, many dogs just do not know when to take a break and will run themselves ragged. Pet parents should closely monitor activity and stop their pet at the first signs of stress.

Do keep your indoor/outdoor cat inside during the storm.

In rural and suburban areas, cats may spend time outdoors. Pet parents should do their best to keep their cats indoors during the storm. Though cats are hardy and ingenious, heavy blowing snow may create drifts so deep that they are left exposed to the elements for long periods of time or become lost.

Don't let your dog eat too much snow (or the yellow kind!)

Though unlikely to cause any significant medical problems, eating too much snow can cause pet parents a lot of aggravation. Excessive drooling, stomach upset and urgent need to urinate are common.

Do consider putting a wax barrier on paws

A wax barrier can help minimize the effects of snow and ice on pet paws. I have used Musher's Secret but am sure there are other similar products. If your pet is not used to having it's paws handled, try to make the application as quick as possible. You can spend some good weather time later getting them comfortable with you picking up and lightly rubbing their paws.

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