Cold Weather Pet Safety

Cold Weather Pet Safety

As temps dip below freezing for many parts of the country, our pets depend on us to keep them safe and warm. Despite having fur, cats and dogs feel the effects of the cold just as much as we do, and they are just as susceptible to hypothermia and frostbite.  A basic rule of thumb is, if it’s too cold out for you, it’s too cold out for your pets.

It is recommended that pets are not outside in cold temps, but if you do have a pet that spends some time outdoors during the day, it should go without saying that you need to provide them with proper shelter, food, and water. Anyone with questions about the requirements can find them listed on the Humane Society website. These are not just guidelines, they are the law, and owners found to have neglected their pets face criminal, and even felony charges.

PLEASE SPEAK UP! If you see a pet left outdoors, it is imperative that you report it to your local law enforcement. Find out what you can do if you see an animal that may be suffering from winter neglect.

Winter Safety Tips 

  • Electric Heaters: Many people turn to electric heaters for extra warmth in the winter. Exercise caution when they are in use around your pets to prevent burns, and to ensure they are not accidentally knocked over, something that could potentially cause a fire.
  • Anti-Freeze: Be vigilant in keeping pets away from anti-freeze, it is highly toxic, and even the smallest amount can be deadly. Make sure to clean up any spills thoroughly.
  • Cold Cars: We all know the risk hot cars pose to our pets, but cold cars are also very dangerous, and we should practice the same caution by not leaving pets unattended in the car.
  • Pet ID: Pets that go missing in cold weather can easily succumb to the elements, so making sure they have the proper ID tags, and their chips are up to date, becomes more important than ever.

Know Your Dog’s Tolerance

Just because it’s cold outside does not necessarily mean you have to hide indoors all season! You may have a dog who loves to go out in the snow for walks and some winter fun! Other dogs may prefer a shorter than normal walk, and some may want no walk at all! If you do have a pup who loves snow, a winter sweater or coat can help to keep them warm, and don’t forget about their paws! 

To prevent an unwanted injury, avoid walking on ice that can cause paw pad tears.  Some dogs, due to the long hair between their toes, are more prone to developing ice balls on their feet, making it practically impossible for them to walk. Trimming the hair in these areas can help to alleviate this problem. Avoid roads, sidewalks, and other surfaces that are treated with salt and chemicals. Along with causing pain, they can also lead to burn injuries to your dog’s paw pads.  

Consider buying your dogs some boots! In addition to keeping your pup’s paws a little warmer, they are the best defense against any potential injuries. There are also many paw protecting products out there that you apply to their feet prior to going outside. 

You know your dog best. Pay attention to their tolerance for the cold and adjust accordingly.


Be Prepared

Extreme winter weather can lead to power outages, and sometimes very lengthy ones that create dangerous, and even deadly situations.  Our pets rely on us to prepare as best we can.

  • Keep a 2-week supply of food and medication on hand at all times.
  • Have all pet ID info up to date.
  • In the event of a potential loss of power, fill containers with water, as well as any bathtubs you may have.
  • Have a basic pet first aid kit.
  • Post pet rescue stickers on your doors.

Learn more about emergency pet preparedness. 

If You See Something, Say Something

If you see an animal suffering, do the right thing and report it to the authorities.
Check out the steps to take if you see an animal that may be suffering from winter neglect. 

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