Winter Pet Care Tips Keep Your Furry Pals Safe and Warm This Season

The cold weather is upon us and for our canine and feline companions that can mean nippy noses, frosty fur, and some extra care on our part. To help keep your dogs and cats safe and warm this season read these helpful winter pet care tips. Plus, we even some bonus tips to ensure your holiday season doesn’t land your curious pet in the animal hospital.

dog sitting outdoors in snowy forest near christmas tree

9 Winter Pet Care Tips

1. Avoid cold cars: Hot cars are not the only hazard for pets. Extreme cold can cause drastic drops in our pet’s temperature which can lead to hypothermia. Never leave your pet locked in a car without the ability to stay warm.

2. Keep your pets warm: A good rule to follow is, if it’s too cold for you outside, it’s too cold for your pets. However, there are some exceptions. Snow-breeds like Huskies can handle the snow and cold better than other dogs, but they still need to have a proper shelter when left outside. Insulated dog houses are one way to ensure your pet is safe and warm.

3. Warm Clothing: Dogs with thin coats, those that are smaller, senior dogs or those with illnesses will benefit from clothing made for the cold climate. This includes insulated jackets, sweaters and special boots with rubber treads.


4. Avoid frozen lakes and ponds: Ice can be deceiving and what we see on the surface may not be what lies beneath. Plus, it only takes a moment for a dog or cat to slip through and into the frigid water, where the risk of hypothermia increases.

5. Winter products: Some winter products such as antifreeze, sidewalk salt, and other deicers can pose a serious health risk to our pets if ingested. Never let your pet drink out of pooling water or lick their paws after they have walked through salt or other deicers. Make a habit of wiping down your pet’s paws and underside after they have been for a walk or outside in the snow.

red border collie dog jumping fun on a winter

6. Beware of sleeping cats: When the temperatures plummet, cats have been known to seek warmth and shelter on the engine of a vehicle. Always bang on the hood of your car before starting it to ensure a feline hasn’t sought refuge there.

7. Keep your dog leashed during a winter storm walk: If you're out during blustery weather, keep Fido leashed. Your dog can easily lose his scent (and you can lose sight of him) increasing the chances of him becoming lost.

8. A cozy bed: Both cats and dogs appreciate a warm cozy place to settle in for a nap or the night. If your dog is crate trained use a crate pillow or a soft blanket and be sure to keep it away from drafts. Cats love to snuggle by a heat source, like a vent, a fireplace, or a sunny window. Make these areas more inviting with a plush bed, a thermal mat or a self-heating mat.


9. Have a pet emergency kit: put together a pet emergency kit that contains food, water, and basic first aid supplies just in case you are snowed in or the electricity goes out.

cat in winter village garden

Holiday Safety Tips

The holidays are right around the corner, so keep your pets safe with these simple tips.

1. Pet-Proof the Christmas Tree: Dogs and cats are naturally curious, especially with an object that only comes into their home once-a-year and contains all sorts of shiny, inviting objects. From breakable ornaments to electricity, to becoming a toppling hazard, the Christmas tree is one of the biggest dangers of the holiday season. To help prevent a mishap, monitor your pets around the tree, keep breakable ornaments higher up, and use a spray deterrent if your pets are electrical cord-chewers. You will also want to be sure to anchor your tree to the wall, so it won't fall over.

2. Pet-Proof the Christmas Tree Water: As live trees "drink" the water from the stand, they can release toxic sap - this is a tasty treat for some pets. Plus, many trees are preserved with chemicals (like Aspirin) that can be fatal to dogs and cats. Cover up the tree stand so your pets don't have access to it (tinfoil and a tree skirt work well).

christmas dog

3. Pick Pet-Safe Holiday Plants: Holly, mistletoe, and poinsettias are all toxic to animals if ingested. Keep these holiday plants well out of reach of your pets. Also, take note of any arrangements that may contain lilies as certain varieties of these plants can also pose a threat.


4. Keep Chocolate and Gifts Out of Reach: We already know the toxicity of chocolate, but other food and gift packages can also carry dangers tucked away under their pristine paper and sparkly bows. Be sure to keep gifts away from curious pets.


Have a "holly jolly" winter and Christmas by keeping these pet safety tips in mind. It's always better to prevent a problem, then to have to deal with it after it has occurred.

Further reading:

  1. Veterinary Medicine at Illinois. Cold Weather Safety for Dogs and Cats
  2. ScienceDaily. Cats found to eat more in the winter
  3. Lin Edwards , How dogs can walk on ice without freezing their paws


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