Cold-weather pet tips from American Humane

People who live in areas experiencing cold weather and winter storms need to take extra precautions to keep their animals safe. Pets left to fend for themselves in cold weather could experience injury and death. The experts at American Humane have tips to keep pets safe.

Winter Pet Care

  • When housebreaking your new puppy, remember that puppies suffer more from the cold than adult dogs. In cold conditions or bad weather, you may need to opt for paper training your pet.
  • Keep your pets inside day and night. Just because they have fur does not mean they can withstand cold temperatures.
    • If dogs live outside, they need a draft-free shelter large enough to stand and turn around in, yet small enough to retain body heat. Use a layer of straw or other bedding material to help insulate them against the cold. Make sure the entrance to the shelter faces away from the direction of incoming wind and snow.
    • Keep your cats indoors. Cats can freeze in cold weather without shelter. Sometimes, cats left outdoors in cold weather seek shelter and heat under the hoods of automobiles and sustain injuries or die when the ignition turns on. Banging loudly on the hood of your car a few times before starting the engine will help avoid a tragic situation.
    • When taking your pets out for a bathroom break, stay with them. If you cannot stand outside, the weather has gotten too cold for your pets.

Precautions for Outdoor Pets

If your pet goes outside during cold weather, keep these tips in mind.

  • Remember that staying warm requires extra calories. Talk to your veterinarian for advice on proper diet.
  • Watch your pet’s outside fresh-water bowl. Unheated bowls may need refreshing more often.
  • Thoroughly clean your pets’ paws, legs, and abdomen after they have been outside, to prevent ingestion of toxic substances and to prevent their pads from becoming dry and irritated.
  • When you let your pets in, wipe their paws and undersides — get ice balls off as soon as possible, as they can cause frostbite. Check your pet’s paws, ears, and tail for frostbite. Frostbitten skin usually appears pale or gray. Treat frostbite by wrapping the area in a dry towel to gradually warm it. Check with your veterinarian if you suspect frostbite.
  • Use nontoxic antifreeze. Use products that contain propylene glycol rather than ethylene glycol, and clean all spills immediately and thoroughly.