JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – You’ve heard it time and time again. When it’s cold outside, we should make sure our pets stay warm. But veterinarians say many don’t realize how important it is.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, cold weather poses serious threats to your pets’ health.

Veterinarians say as a general rule, you should always schedule a check up for your pet every year. Realize, like humans, pets have limitations and you should do everything you can to protect them from the cold.

First and foremost, when at all possible, you should keep your pets inside.

You should also check your pets’ paws before and after they go outside. Often times, ice can accumulate in between their paws and cause injuries. Cracked paws from the cold weather are also fairly common.

Veterinarians say a number of pet owners also believe letting their pets gain a little weight during the winter offers them extra protection. However, veterinarians say the benefits don’t outweigh the risks; pet owners should make sure their pets stay within a health weight range.

For more information, contact your veterinarian or check out the American Veterinary Medical Association website.