As temperatures in Canada dip below -30C, an animal expert imparts some practical tips for keeping your furry loved ones warm this winter.

SPCA Saint John shelter manager Joan Richardson in New Brunswick recommends keeping cats indoors and shortening dog walks to 15 minutes at most as the risk of hypothermia and frostbite increase if they’re outside for too long.

She told CTV Atlantic to look for signs if they’re too cold, such as shivering or trembling and slowed movements, even if they might appear well insulated.

“Sometimes people think that a dog with a big coat [is] probably warm, but again the vets have told us that it really has to do with the amount of body fat they have,” she said, explaining that if the dog doesn’t have a lot of body fat it can get cold easily.

Richardson also advises to check paws for ice and salt, as it can be especially hard on their paws. For protection against the harsh elements, she says you can put a dollop of Vaseline on their pads before they go out.

With files from CTV Atlantic’s Mary Cranston