NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – With temperatures plummeting this week, it is critical that pet owners prioritize the safety of their pets.

It’s also required by the City of Dallas, which requires all pets have access to warm and dry shelter once the actual or effective temperature reaches 32 degrees.

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“What is adequate during our typical 50-degree winter days is not adequate during the freezing weather we are beginning to face now,” said Ed Jamison, director of Dallas Animal Services. “The safest option is to bring your pets indoors when the temperatures drop like this.”

The shelter suggests that if it’s too cold for you, it’s probably too cold for your pet. All pets are at risk during this weather, regardless of size or breed.

“Don’t be fooled by your pet’s fur coat,” said Jamison, “even winter breeds with thick coats are at risk when temperatures reach freezing, particularly here in Texas where pets are not used to this type of weather.”

(credit: Getty Images)

Here are some more tips:

· Cut back on time spent outdoors. If possible, limit walks in extreme cold weather and monitor your pet’s behavior for signs of stress or discomfort. Never leave a pet outside during a winter storm.

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· Don’t let dogs off their leash after a snowfall as snow masks familiar scents and your pet may get lost or become disoriented.

· Snow-melting products like deicers, antifreeze and salt can cause skin irritations and, if ingested, can be fatal. If you live in an area where these products are used, it’s important to thoroughly rinse your pet’s paws and belly after a walk.

· If your pet is small and short-haired, they are likely sensitive to the cold. The same goes for older pets and those that may be frail or ill. Sweaters and jackets are recommended in this case. Larger and long-haired pets can usually tolerate the cold for longer periods of time, and even though you might bundle up, your pet has a long, thick coat prepared for long winter walks.

· Remember that paws get cold and sharp objects may be hiding underneath the snow – consider booties for added comfort.

· Many pets get dry skin during the winter season. When they do need a bath, try a pet-friendly moisturizing shampoo to help keep their skin healthy and pH-balanced.

· Be sure and have a pet emergency preparedness kit packed and ready in the event emergency conditions such as blizzards and extreme cold weather. Items like a sweater, insulated vest, paw booties or wax, pet-safe ice melt and a heated bed, or pad, can all help head off risks associated with cold weather.

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· Emergencies can also create circumstances for pets to become separated from their families. In addition to ensuring your pet is wearing a tag with your phone number along with microchipping and registering him or her with current contact information, also tuck a copy of your pet’s vaccination and medical records, veterinary contact information and a current photo of your pet in your emergency kit.