Tips to Keep Your Precious Pets Safe and Warm this Winter

Meteorologists may be calling for a warmer winter in our area this year, but that doesn’t mean we won’t experience the usual frigid temperatures we’ve come to expect. After all, warmer than 20 or 30 degrees is still, well, COLD! As you brace for another winter of snow and ice, be sure to make preparations to ensure your furry family members enjoy a safe, comfortable and warm winter, too.

Winter Safety

Just as humans can experience the discomfort of cold, so too can our pets. They may be equipped with fashionable fur coats, but they can still get uncomfortably cold, nonetheless. And those left outdoors for extended periods of time can be stricken with a wide array of illness and injuries, including hypothermia.

Keep your four-legged family members safe this winter with the following tips:


A pre-winter wellness exam is a good way to ensure your pet is in good health before the cold winter weather arrives.


It’s wise to have your heating unit checked for carbon monoxide leaks before winter sets in. As it is odorless and invisible, carbon monoxide can cause serious, and sometimes deadly, health problems for people and their pets. And since your pet will likely spend much more time at home than you will this winter, she’s more vulnerable to carbon monoxide poisoning.

Do you use a fireplace, wood/pellet stove or space heater to keep warm? Expect your pet to snuggle up nearby to enjoy the warmth. Make sure the space heater can’t be knocked over by your pet (a tail wagging with happiness and warmth can be dangerous!), and always keep a close eye on your pet to ensure she doesn’t come into contact with flames from the fireplace, heating coils, or other hot surfaces. When selecting a space heater, one with an overheat sensor and a sensor that turns the unit off if it is tipped over is ideal for pet parents.


Think of it this way ~ if you are outside and get cold enough to come inside, chances are your pet is just as cold. Try to keep kitties inside at all times during the winter months, and accompany your pooch outdoors long enough for him to relieve himself and get in some activity.

Know your pet’s limits, as cold weather tolerance varies depending on age, size, coat thickness, health, body fat stores, and activity level. If your pet has a medical condition such as heart or kidney disease, diabetes, or an endocrine disorder, it can compromise his body’s ability to regulate body heat so it’s safest to greatly limit his time outdoors. Very young and senior-aged pets, as well as pets with chronic disease, are also more vulnerable to the cold than healthy youngsters and adults, so be aware of their time outdoors as well. If you need help determining your pet’s temperature tolerance, consult with your vet.


fleecedogsIf your pet is visibly uncomfortable in the winter weather, consider buying him a winter coat, fleece, or sweater. Some dogs with thicker coats will not need clothing, except perhaps in the coldest temperatures, But for some breeds, or young and senior dogs, it may be a necessity. If your pet whines, shivers, appears anxious, loses the pep in his step, or freezes (not literally, of course!) when it’s time to go outside, clothing can help keep them warm while enabling them to comfortably get some exercise. There are many wonderful styles and brands of dog clothing available that will keep your pup fashionably cozy.


Whether your pet wears an ID tag or is microchipped, it is of the utmost importance to keep the information current. More dogs go missing in the winter months than any other time of the year, and it’s very easy for your pet to lose his scent and get lost when there’s snow or ice on the ground.


When your pet returns indoors after a trek outside, thoroughly wipe off his feet, legs and underside. During the winter months, it’s common for pets to pick up rock salt, ice, antifreeze and other toxic chemicals in their paw pads. A good wipe down and inspection of your dog can help prevent chapped and raw pads and possible ingestion of these toxins.


Rock salt can be extremely irritating to a dog’s sensitive paw pads, causing your dog to lick his paws. Use pet safe ice-melt whenever possible. Antifreeze is a year round concern. Most antifreeze, unless it contains a bittering agent, has a sweet taste that can be appealing to your pets. But, the ingestion of an amount comparable to a teaspoon is enough to kill your pets. If they get even a couple of licks, get to the veterinarian immediately. Make sure to check regularly under your car and clean up any pools of antifreeze that may be forming. Better yet, be an agent for change by using pet-friendly antifreeze that isn’t fatal if swallowed in small amounts and that does contain a bittering agent.


Massaging petroleum jelly or other paw protectants into paw pads before going outside can help protect from salt and chemical agents. Booties provide even more coverage and can also prevent sand and salt from getting lodged between bare toes and causing irritation.

Just as humans enjoy snuggling indoors when the weather outside is frightful, so do our pets. Sure, your pups may enjoy a good romp outside in the snow, but be vigilant of their limits. Winter weather can be fun for all, but it can just as easily turn badly if the proper steps aren’t taken to keep your pet safe and warm.


  1. Another good idea would be to invest in some booties. Not all dogs or cats may like that but, if they don’t mind them, they will be able to keep your pet nice and warm. Booties, along with a sweater or coat, can also keep your pet safe when out in the cold. That way they hopefully won’t get sick or freeze when they are outside.

  2. I am glad that you mentioned taking better care of sensitive areas, like the feet. Dogs may take time to adjust to booties, and they will probably hate them at first, but they really are important for your dog’s health and safety during the winter. It is probably also a good idea to take your dog to the vet for a check-up at least once during the winter to make sure they stay in good health.

  3. I agree that it’s important to take special care of your pet all the time, but especially during the sometimes brutal winter months. The tip about thoroughly wiping your pet down after a trip outdoors is important because it allows you to detect anything that may be off and it helps you keep the rest of your home clean. I think it’s always a good idea to make sure your pet isn’t being exposed to elements that are not too harsh, but if necessarily to make sure they are covered up appropriately.

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