Updated date:

Cold Weather Safety Tips for Cats and Dogs

Sadie Holloway, a proud cat parent, is a strong advocate for adopting pets from animal shelters and rescue organizations.

Discover some tips for keeping your dogs and cats warm and safe when the weather gets cold.

Discover some tips for keeping your dogs and cats warm and safe when the weather gets cold.

Cold winter temperatures can be hard on your cat or dog. So when the temperature dips outside, pet guardians must take extra steps to ensure the health and safety of their animal companions. Even though cats and dogs have furry coats to help keep them warm, that doesn’t mean that they aren't still vulnerable to chilly winter weather.

The best way to protect your pets during the winter is to keep them indoors.

The best way to protect your pets during the winter is to keep them indoors.

Many people prefer to keep their pets indoors with them, where they believe they will stay safe. But during the holidays, your cozy home could still present some safety concern for your pets.

Even if you don’t live in a location that experiences extreme weather, holiday activities such as Halloween, fireworks and loud New Year’s Eve celebrations can frighten and scare pets.

Here are some simple tips and suggestions, adopted from various animal welfare agencies and websites, on what you can do to keep your pets out of harm’s way over the holidays.

Keep Them Indoors

The SPCA and many other animal shelters and welfare agencies encourage people to keep all domesticated animals indoors during cold weather. Farm animals, although they may seem big and hearty, should be kept in indoor spaces such as chicken coops, barns and stables. All farm animals should have access to a form of shelter that protects them from wind, rain, snow and excessive dampness. Shelters should be well ventilated, insulated and built off the ground to avoid dampness from creeping in.

Keep Them Warm and Dry

Keep your pet’s feet and fur clean and dry after they've spend any time outdoors. Rock salt, chemical de-icers and sand can get between your pet’s toes, causing scratches and irritation. There's also a health risk from accidentally ingesting chemicals when the animals lick their paws and clean their furry coats. Gently clean your pet's paws with a soft, fluffy towel.

Dog sweaters, coats, boots and hats aren’t frivolous luxuries and indulgences. Outdoor pet clothing can help protect your precious pup or pooch from excessive exposure to cold air, ice and moisture.

When the weather outside turns cold and icy, make sure your pets or livestock are protected from the harsh elements of winter.

When the weather outside turns cold and icy, make sure your pets or livestock are protected from the harsh elements of winter.

Keep Them Leashed

Keep your dogs on a leash while out walking. Frozen lakes and ponds are dangerous for curious dogs who may accidentally run out onto the ice and fall through. Once an animal falls through the ice, climbing out of the freezing water can be very difficult, if not impossible, without the help of emergency responders.

After taking your dog out for playtime in the snow, be sure to clean and dry his feet to remove any road salt or de-icing agents he might have picked up outside.

After taking your dog out for playtime in the snow, be sure to clean and dry his feet to remove any road salt or de-icing agents he might have picked up outside.

Use Propylene-Based Antifreeze

Choose your winter care products carefully. Use pet-safe propylene-based antifreeze instead of ethylene glycol antifreeze, which is toxic to pets and wildlife. Even the smallest amount of antifreeze can kill a cat or dog.

Check Your Car

Look for animals hiding around or in your vehicle before you start your car. Cats and small wildlife seek out warm spaces during cold weather spells. Car engines, wheel hubs and dryer vents are attractive spaces for small animals seeking comfort from the cold. Before you start your car, bang on the hood to awaken and chase away any animals hiding inside or underneath the car’s engine. Check under your car too, before you start the motor.

Seal Up Tight Spaces

Seal up tight spaces where pets or small animals can get trapped. Make sure dryer vent tubing is carefully sealed and the vent has a grate or mesh cover to keep birds and mammals from climbing in.

Don't Leave Them in the Car

Leave your pets at home. In the hot summer months, countless dogs die or are seriously harmed when careless owners leave their dogs in a locked car while they do a few quick errands. Just as the interior of your car can quickly heat up in the summer, the temperature inside your car on a winter day can drop dramatically and expose your pet to hypothermia. Your pets are safer at home indoors than they are locked in your car, no matter what the weather is like outside.

Even with all the windows rolled up, your car is not a good place to keep your dog for too long. Your car can get quite cold in the middle of winter so sometimes it's best to leave your pets at home when you have to go out.

Even with all the windows rolled up, your car is not a good place to keep your dog for too long. Your car can get quite cold in the middle of winter so sometimes it's best to leave your pets at home when you have to go out.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

© 2013 Sadie Holloway

Comments

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on November 23, 2013:

Thanks for sharing the useful and very important strategies for keeping pets and other animals safe in cold weather. A cold winter can be a very difficult time for animals.