Preparing for winter can mean a lot of things, but when you have a pet, one of the most important tasks to perform when cold weather comes along is to make sure he’s safe, warm, and happy. Many dogs spend a lot of time outside, and if their coat is thick enough, they’ll be fine outdoors even when the snow begins to fall. However, there are several hazards to watch out for once winter comes along, both in your home and outside it, and being prepared will help you stay on top of his needs.

Small dogs may need a jacket when they go out, and if you live in an area where ice is prevalent, doggy boots are a great way to keep their little pads safe. Consider, also, that animals can pick up things like antifreeze, salt, and other chemicals on their paws, track them into your home, and lick them off, effectively poisoning themselves, so it’s always a good idea to wipe them down after a walk in winter.

Here are a few of the best tips on keeping your dog safe and warm during winter.

Keep an eye on space heaters
Rambunctious puppies and older dogs who have vision issues are at risk of burns or electric shock from space heaters in cold months, so be careful about where you place them in your home. It’s usually best to keep them out of the way and away from curtains and furniture, and it’s generally not advisable to keep one running overnight. For more tips on pet safety in winter, check out this guide from the American Veterinary Medical Association.

Keep him warm
Most dogs have a nice thick coat to keep them warm, but they can still get cold or even suffer from hypothermia when the temperature drops far enough. Give your pup an extra blanket to keep on his bedding, and take the placement of his bed into consideration. Is it under a window or near a door, where cold air can sneak in? If so, think about finding a new spot for his bed and seal up any cracks that are allowing the elements to come into your home. Using caulk or storm windows is one way to go. You can also create a “draft snake” by filling an old tube sock with uncooked rice or beans and laying it across the bottom of a door with a wide gap.

Keep him on a leash
Many pets get lost during winter weather because snow and ice can mask scents that help their sense of direction, so always keep your pup on a leash when he’s out away from the house. When going for walks, stick to shoveled sidewalks to prevent falls on slippery ice.

Clean his paws
Not only can dogs pick up dangerous chemicals like antifreeze and ice-melting agents on their paws, they can also get small clumps of ice and snow stuck in the hairs between their paws, making it painful or difficult to walk. After your dog spends time outdoors, check his feet carefully and wipe them down to clean off anything he might have picked up. You can also protect your dog’s paws by soaking them in warm water after a trip outside.

Keep it humid
Winter air can be very drying to the skin, even for dogs. If you notice your pet scratching himself more than usual, his skin may be irritated by the temperatures, so turn on the humidifier at home and keep some moisture in the air.

Winter can bring quite a bit of fun for your pet in the form of playtime in the snow, but it can also pose several hazards. Being prepared and knowing how best to keep your dog safe when the temperature drop will give you peace of mind and will allow you to have a plan even in the worst weather.