BOISE - As we start to see more winter-like weather conditions, animal shelters are urging people to properly care for their pets.

The warnings range from protecting pets from the cold weather to maybe thinking twice about giving a pet as a holiday gift.

The executive director of Meridian Canine Rescue, Jessica Ewing, says each January they start to see more requests to take dogs in, either from other rescues or shelters that don't have the room or from owners.

Ewing says usually the reasoning is that people adopt a dog for the holidays as a gift and it doesn't work out. A lot of times it's because people weren't prepared for the responsibilities and work that come along with caring for a dog.

If you are thinking about adopting an animal, you are encouraged to really think about it and make sure it isn't an impulse buy, especially during the holiday season when people tend to have a lot going on and have less free time.

"Really consider whether or not your family is up to make extra time in your schedule to let the dog have some peace and quiet to adjust in the home,” Ewing said. “Make sure everybody's on board. Get the kids involved, bring them in, make sure it’s a good fit for everybody.

"We do meet and greets with the other animals in the home too and try and make sure that everybody in the family is kind of on the same page about this lifetime commitment that you're making,” she added.

Another trend shelters see this time of year is calls about a pet left outside in dangerous weather conditions. Ewing says If it's too cold outside for you it's probably too cold for your pet.

So, watch for signs that your pet is uncomfortable.

“Panting is an easy one,” Ewing said. “When they’re walking in the cold, if the ground is too cold for them, they'll be lifting up their paws a lot and so they’re really uncomfortable. You don't want your dog to be outside in the cold for extended periods of time.”

If you do see a dog or pet left outside in poor conditions, or a stray animal, you should contact animal control. Most pets are microchipped so they can be reunited with their owner.