Keep Your Furry Friends Safe with These 9 Winter Pet Safety Tips

February 2, 2017

While most of us dread the shoveling and poor road conditions that come with a snowy weather, it’s important for us not to lose sight of the importance of winter pet safety. Our furry friends need just as much protection against the winter weather as we do. This is why we’ve put together the following tips to ensure your pets are safe and warm this winter when it’s freezing cold outside.

Winter Pet Safety Tips

Follow these winter safety tips and your pet will be protected from the potential dangers the winter weather presents:

1. Don’t leave pets alone in the car

We’ve all heard about the importance of not leaving pets in hot cars during the summer, but we hear less about leaving pets in the car during the winter. Leaving a pet in the car during the winter is just as dangerous. Cars hold in the cold and, if they are left for long enough, your pets could get frostbite or even freeze to death.

2. If it’s too cold for you, it’s too cold for them

As a general rule, if you find it too cold to go outside, then it’s too cold for your pets as well. When it gets really cold outside, you may want to rethink that walk or trip to the dog park. You also don’t want to let the cat out to roam the neighborhood. There are plenty of indoor activities that you can do with your pet to help them burn off some energy.

“Cats and dogs should be kept inside during cold weather. It’s a common belief that dogs and cats are more resistant than people to cold weather because of their fur, but it’s untrue. Like people, cats, and dogs are susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia and should be kept inside…”

3. Warm place to sleep

Even when they are inside, it’s important to make sure your pets are protected from the cold. Make sure they have a warm place to sleep, like a pet bed or warm blanket – the floors can get cold and many homes have a draft. They could also crawl up in bed with you!

4. Know their outdoor limits

Pets have a cold tolerance. While some pets are seemingly not impacted by the cold at all, others seem to despise it and have very little interest going outside during the winter. Since every pet is different, it’s important to get to know what their tolerance for cold weather is, and know the signs it’s time for them to come inside.

“Just like people, pets’ cold tolerance can vary from pet to pet based on their coat, body fat stores, activity level, and health. Be aware of your pet’s tolerance for cold weather, and adjust accordingly,” suggests the AVMA.

5. Be diligent with paw checks

While many pet owners are very good about wiping their pets’ paws and underside when they come inside the house (mainly because they don’t want their pet tracking water and footprints throughout the house), it’s also important to check their paws regularly for cold weather issues such as cracked or bleeding paw pads and other signs of injury. The cold, damp weather and road salt can cause cracks and burning, which is extremely uncomfortable for your pets.

6. Keep them on the leash

While we know that our pet should always be leashed when walking them, it’s even more important during the winter.

“Many pets become lost in winter because snow and ice can hide recognizable scents that might normally help your pet find his/her way back home. Make sure your pet has a well-fitting collar with up-to-date identification and contact information,” the AVMA says. A microchip is also another option to consider.

7. Pet proof indoors

It’s important not to forget about the indoors when thinking about winter pet safety. Since your pets will be spending the bulk of their time indoors, you also need to make sure your home is pet-proofed for the winter. Things like space heaters, fireplaces, candles, and even holiday decorations can all pose a threat to your pets.

Related: 5 Ways to Keep Your Pets Safe When Left Home Alone

8. Be prepared for storms

You never know when a winter storm could hit and be more severe than anticipated. Be proactive and make sure you have everything your pet needs just in case there are power outages or road closures. Make sure they have enough food and their medication is up to date (if applicable). Think about your pet’s needs when putting together your winter home emergency kit.

9. Take action

Be aware of the signs that something is wrong with your pet. Are they whining more than normal? Are they noticeably shivering? Are they having issues with their paws? It’s important to take action when these signs are present. Take your pet to the vet as a precaution.

Related: How to Choose the Best Vet for Your Pet


Making sure you are ready to handle the impending winter weather is important. This includes making sure your pets are cared for and protected against anything that Mother Nature has in store for us this winter.

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