Cold Weather Pet Care

Weather Outlook - December 16, 2016
Published Friday, December 16, 2016

If it's too cold for you, it's probably too cold for your pet, so keep your animals inside.

If left outdoors, pets can be susceptible to frostbite, hypothermia, become disoriented, or lost. Don't leave pets alone in a car during cold weather, either. Cars can act as refrigerators that hold in the cold and cause animals to freeze to death.

To help prevent cold weather dangers from affecting your pet's health, follow this advice from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA):

  • Never shave your dog down to the skin in winter, as a longer coat will provide more warmth. If your dog is short-haired, consider getting him a coat, sweater with a high collar, or turtleneck with coverage from the base of the tail to the belly.
  • Winter walks can become downright dangerous if chemicals from ice-melting agents are licked off of bare paws. Bring a towel on long walks to clean off stinging, irritated paws. After each walk, wash and dry your pet's feet and stomach to remove ice, salt, and chemicals--and check for cracks in paw pads or redness between the toes.
  • Massaging petroleum jelly or other paw protectants into paw pads before going outside can help protect from salt and chemical agents. Booties provide even more coverage.
  • Make sure your pet has a warm place to sleep, off the floor and away from all drafts. A cozy pet bed with a warm blanket or pillow is perfect.

For more information, visit the ASPCA's Cold Weather Safety Tipspage, the Humane Society or Best Friends Animal Society, and findCold Weather Guidelines for Large Animals and Livestock on Ready.gov.