By Nan Talleno

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Frostbite is a term used to describe the destruction of tissues and damage to the skin due to exposure to severely cold temperatures. Both dogs and cats are susceptible to frostbite which can range from minor to severe, affecting primarily the ears, ear tips, paws and tail tips which have limited blood supply. It can also affect the face, legs and tail or any area of the body exposed with little coverage of fur.

Warning signs may include pain, swelling, skin discolorations such as red or swollen skin in early stages turning to a pale color and then turning black which can ultimately result in the death of tissue in the advanced stages.

Frostbite can result in the loss of limbs as well. If you suspect frostbite, contact your veterinarian immediately.

Prevention, as in many instances, is always the best cure. Make sure to take extra care to prevent frostbite in your pets by keeping your animals warm this winter, especially the young, the elderly, the ailing pets and all short-haired breeds.

But remember, even healthy adult dogs and cats are vulnerable. Keep them indoors, warm, safe and dry.