Pet Winter Safety: 9 Ways To Keep Dogs & Cats Safe In Cold Weather

Winter isn’t an easy season for animals, especially those who lack a forever home. Here are 9 simple ways to help animals stay cozy and safe during the coldest part of the year.

1. How Cold Is Too Cold For Dogs?

Our pets may have fur coats, but that doesn’t mean dogs and cats don’t get cold. When temperatures falls to around 35°F, it’s time to consider bringing your pets indoors. Senior pets, puppies, dogs with thin fur, and small dog breeds are even more sensitive to falling temperatures.

2. Bundle Up

Photo: Unsplash

Would you go outside without a coat or boots in the middle of winter? Good. Now don’t make your dog do it, either. Not only will winter coats and boots help keep pups warm, boots protect sensitive paws from the chemical de-icing agents often used during storms. Be warned that some dogs need convincing to wear boots for the first time. Read this story if you need help training your dog to wear winter boots.

3. Take Care In The Car

Photo: Shutterstock

Most people know leaving dogs alone in hot cars can be deadly, but your vehicle poses just as much risk in winter months. During cold weather, your car is a “refrigerator on wheels,” leaving your dog at risk of hypothermia, suffocation, or even freezing to death. It’s wise to limit your driving time in cold weather or–even better–just leave four-legged passengers at home.

4. Check the Hood

Photo: YOUTUBE SCREENSHOT / 日産自動車株式会社

Cars also present winter hazards for outdoor cats, especially when felines cuddle under the hood or on tires to stay warm. Make sure to check both areas for cats and other critters before you start the engine.

5. Be Careful With Anti-Freeze

It’s also important to keep cars and garages free of any hazardous wintertime chemicals, like anti-freeze, which is deadly for both cats and dogs. According to the ASPCA, pet owners should immediately clean up any spills of dangerous chemicals that occur inside their car or garage. Consider buying car products containing the less toxic propylene glycol.

6. Leashes On

Photo: Unsplash

Always keep your dog on a leash during winter walks and play. It’s tempting to let your dog run free in the snow, but pets run higher risks of getting lost in white-out conditions because snowfall obscures the scented trails they usually follow back home. In addition to keeping dogs warm, reflective collars and bright winter coats also help lost pets stay visible in snowy conditions.

7. Towel Off

It’s important to dress your pets for cold weather, but it’s just as essential to dry them off when they’re back inside. Use a towel or hairdryer to thoroughly dry fur and paws, taking special care to remove any ice balls that may have formed in your dog’s fur. The Animal Rescue Site Store also carries drying towels and heating pads to keep your dog warm and dry after playing in the snow.

8.Eat Up

Dogs and cats should be regularly watered and fed in the winter months because we all need extra calories to generate body heat–and your dog won’t mind the extra helpings! In addition to regular meals, make sure pets are drinking lots of water, which will keep their skin healthy and hydrated despite the dry winter air.

9. Share The Love

It’s important to care for pets in cold weather, but homeless animals could use your help, too. Consider helping community cats in your neighborhood by building an outdoor shelter or a food/water station. Check out our 7 Simple Steps To Save Stray Animals’ Lives This Winter for more life-saving ideas.

Additional Resources:

  • How Cold Is Too Cold For Dogs?
  • 6 Ways To Keep Dogs & Cats Safe In Sub-Zero Conditions
  • Remember To Knock On The Hood Of Your Car During The Winter To Check For Sleeping Cats
  • Protect Your Pets With These Winter Safety Tips
  • 7 Simple Steps That Will Help You Save Stray Animals’ Lives This Winter
  • Help Strays Survive Winter With This Easy DIY Cat Shelter
  • Winter is Coyote Mating Season – How to Protect Your Pets
  • Rescue Rooster and Chick Became Each Other’s Soulmates After Meeting at a Sanctuary: Click “Next” below!

    J. Swanson is a writer, traveler, and animal-enthusiast based in Seattle, an appropriately pet-crazed city where dog or cat ownership even outweighs the number of kids. When the weather permits, she likes to get outside and explore the rest of the Pacific Northwest, always with a coffee in hand.
    Whizzco for FAP