Cold Weather Tips for Pets

Cold Weather Tips for Pets

Brrr! It’s that time of year when the temperatures plummet to uncomfortable lows. Our pets may despise this cold weather even more than we do. Here are a couple helpful tips to ensure your pet is safe and comfortable.


Short-haired, thin, elderly, or sick pets may benefit from wearing a coat or sweater during cold weather. This may allow them to stay outside long enough to do their necessary business. Having your pet wear booties outside can protect their feet not only from the cold, but also from sharp edges of the ice, rock salt, and other chemicals.

Grooming & Bathing

Clipping the extra fur between the toe pads can reduce the accumulation of snow which can cause limping, sores, etc. Many pets have dry skin and a dull fur coat in the winter due to dryness. Brushing your pet can improve quality of their fur coat by dispersing the natural oils of the skin and increasing circulation. Adding an Omega-3 fatty acid to their diet or running a humidifier in your home can help improve their coat as well. Thick-coated dogs typically need more grooming in cold weather. The fur can get wet and matted, which can be irritating. Clean, well maintained fur holds air in a manner similar to layering clothes, thus helping the animal stay warm. After bathing, make sure your pet is completely dry before going outside. Instead of bathing your pet, dry shampoos are a convenient alternative.

See our blog titled “The Importance of Grooming”

Rock salt or Ice Melt Chemicals

If your pet is exposed to areas where rock salt or other ice melting chemicals are used, it is helpful to rinse off their feet when they come inside. Pets can get sores on their feet which can lead to infections. According to the Pet Poison Hotline, ingesting ice melting products can cause vomiting and diarrhea in low doses. In exceptionally high doses these products can cause depression, tremors, disorientation, loss of appetite, increased water consumption, seizures and death. There are products on the market made specifically to be safe for pets. Otherwise, sand and kitty litter can also be used for traction.

Snow Removal

Think of your furry friend when shoveling and clear a spot out of the deep snow for them to potty. They might not be able to tell you, but you know they will appreciate it. You can make it fun by shoveling fun paths or a maze in the yard for them to navigate.

Eating Snow or Drinking from Puddles

Antifreeze, coolant, and windshield wiper fluid can be harmful to pets. These chemicals often accumulate with melting snow into puddles, which can be ingested by pets either by drinking the puddles or licking their feet. Clean up any spills and discourage pets from drinking from puddles.


Brief exposure to sub-zero temperatures can lead to frostbite on sensitive areas such as the feet, nose or ears. Frost-bitten skin can appear red, gray or whitish and may start to peel off.  If you suspect frostbite, bring your pet in to a warm place and apply warm (not hot), clean, moist towels. Change the towels frequently. Continue until the affected areas become flushed. Contact your veterinarian for further care.

Weight Gain

Due to lack of exercise, pets often gain weight during winter months. Decreasing their calorie intake or increasing their indoor activity can help them maintain a healthy weight. Excess weight can cause or intensify health problems such as arthritis, diabetes, and heart disease.

See our blog on “Exercising Your Dog in Winter”

Check your Engines

Outdoor cats and wild animals tend to climb up into cars to seek warmth from the engine. Banging on the hood of your car or honking the horn before starting the engine can warn animals and scare them off.

Heaters, Fireplaces, & Candles

Your pet can be at risk of burns to themselves or causing household fires. They can knock over portable heaters or candles, or get too close to fireplaces. Placing a screen in front of fireplaces, keep heaters and candles up out of reach, and don’t leave pets unattended around these heat sources.

Feral Cats

Consider putting out shelter for feral cats in your area. There are many how-to videos on Youtube and other resources online for building shelters. Just a tote with some insulation such as clean, dry straw or a Styrofoam cooler can provide some protection from the elements and predators.

For more information and helpful tips follow our blog. If you have any questions or would like to schedule an appointment, give us a call at 444-5797.