As temperatures drop and winter rapidly approaches, dog owners need to take special care to keep their four-legged friends safe and warm. From what to watch out for during walks to caring for their paws, the American Kennel Club offers the following tips to help keep your dog healthy and happy this winter:

• Watch out for deicers such as rock salt when taking your dog for a walk. They can not only irritate your dog's paws, but can be toxic if your dog licks it. Make sure to rinse and dry the dog's paws when you get home.

• Keep the hair between your dog's toes trimmed. This will help keep ice balls from forming. The snow and ice can cause cuts and cracked pads. You can also rub a small amount of petroleum jelly on your dog's paw pads before you go for a walk to help repel the snow.

• Don't leave your dog alone in the car on cold days. Just as your car heats up in the summer, it gets extremely cold in the winter.

• Avoid spilled antifreeze in driveways. It smells and tastes good to dogs, but it is lethal to them. You also can use pet-friendly antifreeze in your car; it contains a much less toxic chemical and it doesn't taste as good to animals.

• Consider putting a sweater on your dog when you go outside if you have a hairless or smooth-coated breed.

For more information on responsible dog ownership, visit the AKC website at