How Pet Owners Can Keep Their Pets Safe and Healthy in The Cold Winter Months

by Lisa Fimberg on November 18, 2020

Winter has arrived early, and it can be a big change for every pet owner and even their pets.  While it is easy for pet parents to bundle up and stay healthy, it is equally important that they take extra care with their pets during the cold winter months.

For new pet owners particularly, they might not realize the impact the cold has on their dog or cat.  Some dogs do thrive and love the snow, but they should only be outside for only a short period of time.

Below are some tips for pet owners to help keep their dogs and cats healthy and safe during the winter:

Pets must be kept indoors

Pet parents should never leave dogs and cats outdoors when the temperature drops, especially short haired or older dogs and all cats.  When they do go out, pet parents should watch them closely.  Dogs and cats are safer indoors and should be only allowed out for short walks and potty breaks.

Dogs and cats should wear extra clothing during the winter

Cats may not tolerate the extra clothes, but many dogs enjoy wearing sweaters or hats especially after a few cold days getting acclimated to them.  Hats and boots can help to protect their sensitive ears and feet from the freezing cold.  STORE TIP:  Keep winter clothes and booties in the front of your store for pet parents to peruse as they enter.

 Shorter dog walks are preferable

For dogs on a particular schedule when it comes to walking and exercising, while it might be difficult to alter, pet parents should be mindful of the temperature and the duration of outdoor activity.  Walking dogs later in the afternoon when it is warmer or not taking them out during a snow or rainstorm is better for their overall health.   Shorter walks are always optimal during the cold winter months.

No matter what the temperature is, a wind chill can threaten a pet’s life. Dogs and cats are sensitive to severe cold and are susceptible to both frostbite and hypothermia when they are outdoors during extreme cold temperatures.  Further, their exposed skin or noses, ears, and paw pads can quickly freeze and suffer permanent damage.

Pet parents should not leave dogs or cats in the car during winter

Dogs and cats should never be left alone in a car during cold weather. A car can act as a refrigerator in the winter, holding in the cold and causing the dog or cat to freeze to death.  There is so much attention to pets being left in hot cars during the summer, but the cold car during winter can be equally dangerous.

Pets’ paws’ need to be wiped after they have been outside

Pet parents should wipe a dog and cat’s paws with a damp towel after they have been outside.  The salt and other chemicals used to melt snow and ice can irritate the pads of a dog or cat’s feet.  These chemicals are also toxic, which can be ingested if a dog or cat licks their paws.

Dogs and cats require just as much water during winter

Pets who spend a lot of time outdoors need more food in the winter because keeping warm depletes energy.  Pet parents should routinely watch the water dish to make certain the water is fresh and unfrozen.

Plastic or ceramic water bowls rather than metal can be a better option in the cold, so a dog or cat’s tongue doesn’t stick and freeze to the metal.   STORE TIP:   Create a “winter special” or “winterized display” to sell these types of bowls and other winter items.

Pet parents need to watch the antifreeze

Antifreeze is a deadly poison, but it has a taste that can attract pets. Pet parents should wipe up all spills and store antifreeze (and all household chemicals) out of reach for your pets. There are some types of antifreeze that are less toxic, but it is always best that they are kept away from cats and dogs.

Hoods of cars ought to be checked before driving

When a pet owner is off to work or school in the morning, they should knock on the hood of their car before starting their engine.  Outdoor cats, feral or domesticated (as well as other outdoor critters), tend to seek shelter and warmth from winter’s cold air. Warm car engines and tires on vehicles are common places for felines to take a cat nap.

Winter can be fun for pet owners and their pets – new scents, chasing snowballs and warm snuggles.  Pet store retailers can help pet owners by providing great options for winter clothing and supplies during the cold winter months.

If your customers have any questions about their pets during the winter season, our agents are here to help!  Contact our Success Team ( to learn more about our services.

Lisa FimbergHow Pet Owners Can Keep Their Pets Safe and Healthy in The Cold Winter Months