With wind chills expected to plunge into the teens tonight and continued cold weather on Tuesday, the Charleston Animal Society is urging residents to take extra precautions with pets and other vulnerable animals in neighborhoods.

"The main thing is to bring pets inside, even if they don't normally come inside," said veterinarian Lucy Fuller, director of public health for the animal society.

Just like humans, Fuller said that older and younger animals are particularly at risk in severely cold temperatures.

Fuller said that people who see other vulnerable animals, such as dogs with no access to dog houses, should contact animal control officers at the appropriate police departments.

Those who care for feral cats, she said, should try to provide a three-sided, roofed shelter and a blanket or other ground cover to protect the animals from wind and moisture, which saps body heat.

Fuller says that just because animals have fur, it does not protect them from extreme cold. Wild animals often seek protected places,

Here are some basics to protecting animals from the cold:

1. Keep cats inside: Domestic cats are not equipped for cold weather and can freeze, or become lost, stolen, injured or killed when seeking protection from the cold.

2. Bang loudly on your hood before starting your car: Outdoor or homeless cats often seek the warmth of a car engine. When the motor is started, a cat huddled there can be injured or killed by the fan belt.

3. Never shave your dog during cold weather: Longer coats provide much needed warmth.

4. Consider a coat or sweater for short-haired dogs: This is especially important for smaller dogs.

5. Never leave pets alone in a car during cold weather: A car can trap cold in the winter, and potentially cause an animal to freeze to death.

6. Puppies and older dogs do not tolerate cold as well as younger adult dogs: During extreme cold consider taking them outside only for potty breaks.

7. Provide warm shelter for feral cats: This can be provided through a variety of resources found in most homes. Simply take some kind of container, such as a storage bin, cat or dog carrier or even a sturdy box and provide it with insulation. For insulation, you can line the container with a variety or combination of things such a blanket or a pillow, Styrofoam or hay.

8. Beware of antifreeze: Antifreeze is a lethal poison for dogs and cats. Just a small amount of antifreeze can lead to kidney failure. It has a very sweet taste and animals will drink it. Never leave it laying around where a pet can get to it, and keep them out of garages and driveways where antifreeze may have leaked

9.Provide them a warm place to sleep: Ideally, this should be off the floor and away from all drafts. A cozy dog or cat bed with a warm blanket or pillow is perfect.

10. Older pets can benefit from a check-up: Cold weather can exacerbate some medical conditions such as arthritis. A visit with their vet can help assure your pet is ready and as healthy as possible for freezing temperatures.

Reach David Quick at 937-5516.