HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - As we talk about braving the deep chill settling into the Tennessee Valley, it's important not to forget the creatures who count on us to help them keep warm.
Sub-freezing temperatures are already claiming lives.
On a bright sunny morning outside Apollo Animal Hospital and Pet Resort, you can see the breath of a dog barking, much like the breath of a human breathing in bone-chilling temperatures.
Veterinarians are putting out the message to people in North Alabama: don't forget pets in your plans of bundling up during sub-freezing weather.
"The main thing is to make sure they're protected," said Dr. Jennifer Hahs, a veterinarian at Apollo Animal Hospital. "When the weather gets to be this close and we have a lot of wind."
Hahs said she's already seen one death over the last few days. It was a puppy someone brought in with a body temperature too low to save, due to being left out in the cold.
"When the temperature shifts, they're going to be more susceptible to any infections in respiratory tracts," said Hahs. "So it's important to watch for any type of runny nose or see anything like coughing. Just use common sense as far as what you would do to keep yourself warm in these kind of temperatures."
Pet owners can find plenty of things to help animals cope with the cold. Things like heated water dishes, heat lamps, pet-friendly de-icer and sweaters are on sale at CT Garvins Feed Store in Huntsville.
Also, there is cedar shavings and straw available to purchase to insulate a pet's house, if the pet must be left outside.
Although, in temperatures as low as what's been forecast, being outside in it for any length of time could lead to frostbite.
"Just as with people in extremely cold temperatures, it will be the extremities, the tips of the ears," said Hahs, referring to the areas where frostbite sets in.
Even though they have fur coats, they're no match for brutal wind, rain, sleet and snow.
The Alabama Veterinary Medical Association advises outdoor pets to be brought indoors if the temperature drops below 20 degrees.
And short-haired animals, babies, elderly and injured pets should come inside when it hits 40 degrees, due to cold-weather related threats.