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  • Jamie F., CVT

Cold Weather Pet Safety

If you are living in an area of the country where winters can be anything but warm, you know the cold can be extremely dangerous. You may have heard the saying, “If you’re cold, your pet is cold.” While this statement can certainly be true, cold weather safety can vary depending on your pet’s breed, size, age and lifestyle! A Siberian Husky may thrive in the cold, snowy weather whereas a Chihuahua may barely take a step out the door and be suffering the cold! Here you will find tips on how to prepare for cold weather and what things you can do to ensure your pets stay warm and safe all winter long!

Limit time outdoors

Try to keep outdoor time short during the colder months. Smaller breeds, pets with thin coats, as well as very old, very young or sick pets typically do not tolerate cold temperatures for long periods of time. Try to plan your outdoor activities for mid day when the sun is shining and the temperature is at its highest.

Keep grooming to a minimum

Of course regular baths and grooming are an essential part of your pet’s healthy lifestyle but consider skipping the short haircuts during the colder times of the year. A longer coat can certainly mean more upkeep and brushing but your pet will thank you for their very own built in coat during the winter months.

Winter gear

Our short haired breeds can definitely benefit from wearing a winter coat or sweater for walks and potty breaks. Another thing to consider is dog booties! All breeds can be susceptible to cold, irritated paws whether it be from playing in the snow, on the ice or walking on salty sidewalks. If your dog doesn’t tolerate booties, make sure to have a towel handy to wipe down paws and remove any potentially irritating salt!

If you have an outdoor pet that is not able to be brought indoors, make sure that they have adequate shelter to protect themselves from the cold. Give them a space that is large enough for them to lie down but small enough for them to conserve body heat. If possible raise the floor a couple inches off of the ground and cover the floor with straw. Try to face the enclosure away from the wind and ensure the roof is waterproof. Ensure they have plenty of fresh (not frozen) water to drink. Outdoor pets will also need more food as they will burn a lot more calories to keep warm.

Winter Toxins

Winter time also brings other dangers to our pets such as antifreeze exposures! Antifreeze is toxic to animals and can be deadly. Make sure to keep antifreeze out of reach and ensure any spills or leaks are taken care of as soon as possible. If your pet is exposed to antifreeze, contact your veterinarian or an animal poison control service immediately.

Winter Wellness Tips

Cats are known to seek shelter under vehicles near the engine. Be sure to check before starting your vehicle by banging on the hood or honking your horn!

Just like summer months, it is not recommended to leave your pet in a cold car. The car can act like a cooler and can reach dangerous temperatures quickly.

Ensure your pets are microchipped and wearing their ID tags! Pets are far more likely to get lost in the winter months when snow is on the ground.

If you have questions about your pet and cold weather, please reach out to us or your local veterinarian. Signs of hypothermia in pets include lethargy or sluggish behavior, dilated pupils, increased heart rate followed by a slowing heart rate, rapid breathing followed by slow breathing, paleness and loss of consciousness. If you suspect your pet may be suffering any of these symptoms, immediate veterinary evaluation is recommended.


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