When the temperature begins to fall, pets need extra care. OHS offers tips to keep pets safe and healthy during cold weather.
If the weather becomes too severe, please bring all pets indoors. OHS also urges you to remember the wildlife by putting out easy-to-reach food and keeping fresh, thawed water available for them.
Pets are Best Kept Inside
- Bring pets indoors when temperature reaches 30 degrees, with or without the wind-chill factor.
- Dogs and cats can get frostbite on sensitive tissues like ears, nose, and feet if left outside.
- Chemicals used to melt snow on sidewalks can irritate pets’ paws.
- Indoor pets get less exercise in the cold months, so adjust their diets accordingly to prevent unhealthy weight gain.
If Your Pet Must be Kept Outside
Or if you’re caring for feral cats, for example, be sure to “winterize” for them as well:
- An outdoor dog needs a dry, elevated house with clean, dry bedding and a flap over the opening to keep drafts out.
- Consider adding a dog door to the garage with a soft cushion in the warmest corner.
- Make sure water in bowls is not frozen. Check periodically throughout the day.
- Use plastic food and water bowls rather than metal; when the temperature is low, your pet’s tongue can stick to cold metal.
- Give outdoor pets more food. Outdoor dogs and cats need more calories in the winter to produce body heat, so increase the amount fed to these pets.
- See more tips, projects, gear, safety documents and more on our fall & winter Pinterest board here »
For Both Indoor and Outdoor Pets
- Before starting your car: make sure a cat hasn’t crawled underneath seeking shelter and warmth near the engine. Open the car hood or slap it noisily before starting the engine to awaken any animal sleeping there.
- Vehicle safety: try using “pet-friendly” antifreeze products and thoroughly cleaning up any spills.
- During walks: keep your dog on leash and under control during walks in the winter weather, especially during a snowstorm – dogs can lose scent in this weather and become lost. Always make sure yours always wears ID tags.
- Post-walk: check and wipe pets’ paws when they come back into the house because they can ingest road salt, antifreeze or other potentially dangerous chemicals when licking paws to clean them. Paw pads may also be cut by snow or encrusted ice.
- Cold cars: never leave your dog or cat alone in a vehicle during cold weather. A car can act as a refrigerator, causing the animal to develop hypothermia or freeze to death.
- Emergency numbers: keep the local emergency veterinarian’s or family veterinarian’s telephone number handy in your car and your home; possibly in your wallet.