Brrrr! Is Your Best Friend Cold?

Jan 7, 2017

Even big dogs can get cold in wintry weather!
Credit Oakley Originals [Flickr]

Some pets can handle wintry conditions better than others, but even pets that stay outdoors most of the time need shelter, a place where they can curl up and be protected from low temperatures, wind, and rain, snow and sleet.


Brrrr – it’s cold outside! There’s no doubt that winter is here. This is a time when your pet requires some planning to be comfortable and safe in the cold weather.

A dog or cat that spends all its time outside usually will have developed a winter coat by the time cold weather sets in. An animal’s winter coat is actually an undercoat of hair which offers additional protection from the cold. Indoor pets never develop the winter coat necessary to protect them from bitterly cold temperatures.

Except for brief excursions outside to relieve themselves, indoor pets should be kept inside in cold weather, along with very young pets, older pets, and those with certain health conditions such as heart or kidney disease, or diabetes. Generally, a pet with short hair tends to suffer more from the cold - a pet sweater can help, but it won’t protect the animal’s feet and ears where much of its body heat is lost.

Even an outdoor pet may not be prepared to deal with very cold temperatures, but there are some things you can do to help. First is to provide shelter, where the animal can get out of the wind and rain. It could be a dog house, or a shed, or even a garage or laundry room, as long as your pet has a protected place to sleep that is raised off the ground a couple of inches.

If the temperature stays at or below freezing, provide fresh water several times a day because water that has been outside, even in a clean bowl, may be frozen and undrinkable.

Every winter many cats are seriously injured or killed when, in search of warm places to sleep, they crawl up into the engine compartments of cars. Before starting your car, pound on the hood to make sure your daily routine doesn’t turn into a tragedy.

And remember that antifreeze is poisonous for dogs and cats, who may be tempted by its sweet taste. When protecting your vehicle from cold weather, take time to clean up any spills which could kill a pet.

Some common sense and a little extra attention could mean a safer and more comfortable winter season when you’re speaking of pets.