10 Cold Weather Tips for Pet Parents

With Thanksgiving behind us, the cold winter months are soon to be in full swing––which means freezing temperatures and unpredictable precipitation. Pets and animals can be especially vulnerable to winter weather conditions, and even though many of them are covered in fur, pet parents need to take special precautions to make sure animals are protected against the elements.

Here are 10 cold weather tips for making sure your pets are protected:

1. Keep your cat inside. Outdoors, felines can freeze, become lost or be stolen, or be injured or killed. Cats who are allowed to stray are exposed to infectious diseases—including rabies—from other cats, dogs, and wildlife.

2. During the winter, outdoor cats sometimes sleep under the hoods of cars. When the motor is started, the cat can be injured by the fan belt. If there are outdoor cats in your area, bang loudly on the car hood before starting the engine to give the cat a chance to escape.

3. Never let your dog off the leash on snow or ice, especially during a snowstorm since dogs can lose their scent and easily become lost. More dogs are lost during the winter than during any other season, so make sure yours always wears ID tags and is microchipped.

4. Thoroughly wipe off your dog’s legs and stomach when he comes in out of the sleet, snow, or ice. He can ingest salt, antifreeze, or other potentially dangerous chemicals while licking his paws—and his paw pads may also bleed from snow or encrusted ice.

5. Never shave your dog down to the skin in winter, as a longer coat will provide more warmth. When you bathe your dog in the colder months, be sure to completely dry him before taking him out for a walk. Own a short-haired breed? Consider getting him a coat or sweater with a high collar or turtleneck with coverage from the base of the tail to the belly. For many dogs, this is regulation winter wear.

6. Never leave your dog or cat alone in a car during cold weather. A car can act as a refrigerator in the winter, holding in the cold and causing the animal to freeze to death.

7. Puppies do not tolerate the cold as well as adult dogs, and may be difficult to housebreak during the winter. If your puppy appears to be sensitive to the weather, you may opt to paper-train him inside. If your dog is sensitive to the cold due to age, illness or breed type, take him outdoors only to relieve himself.

8. Does your dog spend a lot of time engaged in outdoor activities? Increase his supply of food, particularly protein, to keep him, and his fur, in tip-top shape during all the cold weather months.

9. Like coolant, antifreeze is a lethal poison for dogs and cats. Be sure to thoroughly clean up any spills from your vehicle, and consider using products that contain propylene glycol rather than ethylene glycol. Visit the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center more information.

10. Make sure your companion animal has a warm place to sleep, off the floor and away from all drafts. A cozy dog or cat bed with a warm blanket or pillow is perfect.

Now get out there for a fun game of fetch in the snow!

How Cold is Too Cold for Dogs and Cats?
Can Dogs Get Colds?
Tips for Walking Cats & Dogs in the Winter

Selected by Laura Drucker, TAILS Editor


Robin R.
Past Member 2 years ago

Your composing is purely awe-inspiring that I desired to read such high quality material... Inspiration

Melania Padilla
Melania Padilla5 years ago


Fred Hoekstra
Fred Hoekstra6 years ago

Thank you TAILS, for Sharing this!

Fiona T.
Past Member 6 years ago

I suppose what it needs the most is the warmth from us

Alicia N.
Alicia N6 years ago

I jus cannot believe that some people leave their pets outdoors in the cold- really?

Thanks for the tips.

Duane B.
.6 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Alichia Rose
Alichia Rose6 years ago

Thank you so much for this. I would have never even thought of some of these.

katarzyna phillips

i have bought mine some baby t-shirts to wear in the house if it's particularly cold. he has a few jackets to wear when we're outside too. most of it is common sense though! although not so sure on the dog 'booties'?!

Carrie Anne Brown

thanks for sharing :)

Elisabeth T.
Elisabeth T6 years ago

Great article, thank you...