Cold Weather Tips for Pets

Submitted by Veterinary Wellness Partners on Thu, 01/02/2014 - 12:56pm


When the weather turns cold, our pets can be at risk for additional cold weather related issues.  Here are some practical guidelines to keep your pet safe during this cold weather in Northeast Ohio.

  1. It is best to keep pets indoors.  Now is a good time to consider moving all cats to an indoor area.  If that is not possible, make certain that he/she has adequate shelter from the snow, wind and cold.  An enclosed building or garage (without cars (see below)) can provide additional insulation from the cold and wind.  Adding a heat lamp or a small “cat house” is even better. 
  2. Heat lamps can be used to help keep certain areas warm.  Keep in mind, that these may increase the risk of fire, so be very cautious when choosing this as an option.   These should not be used in very small spaces.
  3. Always bang on the hood of your car prior to starting it up.  Outdoor cats love to climb up under the hood of a car after it is done running.  If the cat is there when you start the cat, they can be severely injured or killed.
  4. It is a good idea to keep your dog on a leash at all times when you are outside.  This is even more important in the cold, especially when snow and ice are involved.  More dogs are lost during the winter months than any other season.  We think this is due to the fact that dogs can easily lose their scent (scent trails) since these routes are covered over with the ice and snow.
  5. We recommend that all pets receive an RFID microchip, such as the Home Again microchip system.  At minimum, all pets should have updated and easy to read pet ID tags.
  6. Wipe your dog down thoroughly after they have been outside.  The paws are a very important area to clean, as ice and snow easily clings to the hair on the bottom of the feet.  This can lead to frostbite.  You should also wipe down the bottom of your dog’s abdomen (stomach) to remove snow, ice and any possible chemical residues (salt, antifreeze, and other potentially harmful substances)
  7. It may be too late for this tip, but we do not recommend shaving your pet’s hair coat short in the winter.  This may be obvious, but the hair coat is their thermal protection against the bitter cold that we tend to see in Orrville, Wooster, Rittman and the surrounding areas.
  8. If you own a dog or cat that has naturally short hair, consider getting them a sweater or coat to help keep him/ her warm.
  9. Do not leave your pet inside a car.  The inside temperatures in a car can drop rapidly, resulting in an animal freezing to death.  Pets that are left inside a running vehicle could potentially inhale fumes from the exhaust, or even put the vehicle into motion.
  10. Just like infants, puppies are not as good at thermoregulation as adult dogs.  If your puppy seems to be sensitive to the extreme cold, you may opt to paper train indoors. 
  11. Older pets are also more sensitive to the cold.  If you have an elderly pet, let them outside only to relieve themselves, allowing them to return inside as quickly as possible.
  12. Oftentimes, we do not consider the indoor environment of your pet.  It is best to keep pets off of direct contact with the floors.  Make sure to locate pet beds away from doors, vents and other drafty areas. 
  13. Double and triple check that you vehicle is not leaking antifreeze.  Unfortunately, antifreeze is very sweet in taste, yet highly lethal. 


Click HERE for Thanksgiving tips for your pets.

Click HERE for cold weather tips for Horses