Blizzard on Long Island's Great South Bay [Photo (c) Tom Thorson]

As one of the worst winter storms in years wallops the East Coast, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) is issuing a pet safety alert.

With a blizzard like this and sub-freezing temperatures bring your pets inside immediately. Make bathroom runs just that -- runs that are quick and to the point.

When taking your pets outside make sure they are prepared. If you have a small pet it may need a coat depending on how thick its fur is. Get booties so their paws don't freeze. Always go out with them and make sure they have ID tags on in case they bolt or something horrible happens.

When you bring them back in make sure you clean them off and check their paws. Look at the paw pads and the spaces in between their toes. Be really careful about ice-melting chemicals and antifreeze -- they can make your pet very ill and they may have a tendency to lick their legs or feet.

The sun rises over Long Island homes still shuttered after Superstorm Sandy [Photo (c) Tom Thorson]

Pets with diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, or hormonal imbalances (such as Cushing’s disease) may have a harder time regulating their body temperature, and may be more susceptible to problems from temperature extremes. The same goes for very young and very old pets.

A warm vehicle engine can be an appealing heat source for outdoor and feral cats, but it’s deadly. Check underneath your car, bang on the hood, and honk the horn before starting the engine to make sure you don't have any extra passengers.

Be careful with space heaters around pets, who could knock them over and start a fire.

Watch where you take that quick walk. When walking your dog, stay away from frozen ponds, lakes and other water. You don’t know if the ice will support your dog’s weight, and if your dog breaks through the ice -- or you do -- it could be deadly.

The water may look frozen, but don't count on it [Photo (c) Tom Thorson)

Keep an eye out for pets in distress and report them if you see them. In New York City, call 311. 

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