Cold Winter Weather Tips for Pet Owners

Taken from Pet Sitters International 2012

As the weather turns  cold, it is important to consider how seasonal changes affect your pets.   Outdoor animals can become the victims of improper shelter, lack of fresh water antifreeze poisoning, frostbite an deven hypothermia.   Here are a few tips to warm the hearts of your animal friends.

Skin and Coat Conditioning

  • Inspect pet paws regularing to check for cracked pads, broken nails or snow and ice damage.
  • Brush the coat regularly to distribute natural oils to the skin.
  • Supply winter paw protection, such as shoes or booties.


  • Frostbite most frequently affects ears, toes, tail, scrotum and areas least covered by fur.
  • Signs of frostbite include red or swollen areas or skin that is very pale and white.
  • To treat frostbite, immerse the area in warm water for 15-20 minutes.   Never use hot water! Check with your veterinarian.

Winterize Pet Shelters

  • Add straw as insulation to doghouses.  For outdoor cats, provide a snug, warm bed that does not sit directly on the cold ground or concrete.
  • Watch for antifreeze leaks-they can be deadly to pets!
  • For indoor animals, use protective screens around fireplaces and maintain supervision in the area.
  • Install carbon monoxide detectors for the safety of your family and your pets.
  • Keep the temperature level. Animals are more sensitive to temperature changes than we are.


  • Hypothermia occurs when a pet has been exposed to very cold temperatures and or winds for a extended period of time.
  • Symptoms of hypothermia include shivering, low body temperature, stumbling, drowsiness and exhaustion.
  • To treat hypothermia, the pet’s body temperature must be raised.  Surround the pet with warm water bottles and blankets.  Try to get the animal to drink warm liquids.  Call your veterinarian.

Winterize Your Pet

  • Provide extra food, as some pets have increased appetities during cold-weather months.
  • Use sweaters, raincoats, hats or paw protection such as shoes or booties.
  • Buy heated water bowls for extreme cold weather.
  • Keep nails trimmed regularly.  It is difficult to maintain solid footing with long nails in icy conditions.

Summary by Jean Furs:

Remember outdoor animals should be brought indoors when the weather is extremely cold even if you have outdoor shelter for them.  Animals require heat to survive brutally cold winters. Be kind and remember animals are just a different species than human animals. Dogs and cats cannot tolerate extreme cold temperatures.  Use common sense during severe cold weather and bring your outdoor animals indoors. Be kind and considerate to your animals.



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