Cold Weather Protection for Pets

Jan 25, 2014

Sung and cozy!
Credit CelloPics [Flickr]

Smart idea, even for a cat, to have a shelter that is raised up off the ground.  The animal is protected from bitterly cold winds, too, in a well-build dog (or cat) house!


When the temperatures dip as low as they have recently, we’re all reaching for heavy jackets and coats, gloves, boots, anything to help keep us warm. Some folks think pets will be fine in cold weather because they have fur coats.

While it’s true that pets who spend a lot of time outdoors probably have grown a winter coat (an undercoat, really, that helps to insulate them from cold weather), when temperatures dip in to the low twenties and below, even that undercoat may not be enough to protect a dog or cat from hypothermia.

A dog house or other shelter can help your pet withstand the low temperatures, especially if its floor is raised up off the ground a few inches. An insulated shelter is even better. Add a heated mat or a bed of straw to make things more comfortable. A jacket might also help your pet stay warm. Another possibility would be to let your outdoor animal stay in your garage or laundry room overnight.

Indoor pets who don’t spend much time outside never really develop that protective undercoat. Except for brief excursions outdoors, they really should stay inside, along with older animals, very young ones and those that have serious health problems.

In the Alabama Public Radio listening area, temperatures are not too bad this weekend but the forecast indicates we’re in for a lot more frigid cold weather. This might be a great time to buy or build a shelter for your outdoor pet. Many pet stores and building supply companies carry everything you need to help your pet survive icy cold conditions - things like insulated igloo shelters, heated pet pads, pet sweaters, coats, vests, and maybe even a heated water bowl. It’s hard to take a drink from a bowl that’s frozen solid in twenty-degree temperatures.

And remember that 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.

A little planning could mean a safer and more comfortable winter season for your best friend, when you’re speaking of pets.