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    Cold weather care tips for your dogs

    Outdoor pets

    Some pets are better suited than others for living outdoors. There is a common misconception that dogs will be fine if left outside. This is not true! All pets need adequate shelter from the elements and insulation against cold weather.  Pets should not be left outside for long periods in freezing weather. Like humans, they can suffer from hypothermia and frostbite. Young and senior pets are especially at risk.

    Foot care

    Dogs walking on snowy areas may get large ice balls between their pads, causing the dog to limp. Keep ice clear from this area. Dog boots offer protection to those dogs that will tolerate wearing them.

    Salt and chemical de-icers

    Pets who walk on sidewalks that have been "de-iced" are prone to dry, chapped, and potentially painful paws. This will encourage the pet to lick their paws, and ingestion may cause gastrointestinal irritation and upset. Wash off your pet's feet after an outing with a warm wet cloth or foot bath.


    Certain breeds, such as Huskies and Samoyeds are better suited for very cold weather, but the majority of dogs need your help and intervention. Indoor accommodations are best during extreme temperature drops, but if that is not possible, set up a suitable house in an area protected from wind, rain, and snow. Insulation, for example straw, will help keep in body heat. Do not use blankets (they absorb moisture and WILL freeze!) or material that can be ingested. Cedar shavings can be irritating to the skin, so plan with caution.

    Frozen lakes and ponds

    Dogs may not realize they are walking on thin ice until it is too late. Once they fall in, it is very difficult for them to climb out and hypothermia and drowning is a very real danger. "Ice skating" dogs are prone to injuries such as cruciate tears if allowed to "skate" with their humans. This is also true of icy walks.

    Antifreeze dangers

    Thirsty, hungry, and curious pets will lap up antifreeze. Just a few licks can be fatal. Lock up antifreeze containers and clean up spills immediately. If you suspect your pet has consumed any antifreeze, get them to a vet immediately!

    Heat-seekers beware

    Cats will seek warmth where they can get it, including the warm engine of a car just parked. Before staring your car, knock on the hood or honk the horn to scare off any cats and prevent tragedy.

    Arthritic animals

    Arthritis is worse during cold and damp weather. Take special care to handle your pet gently, watch out for icy walks, provide soft (and possibly heated) bedding, and administer any necessary medications. See your veterinarian if your pet is arthritic or if you suspect arthritis.

    Fresh Food and Water - Fresh water is a must at all times!


    Pets are not able to get enough water from licking ice or eating snow. A heated dish is a wonderful tool for cold climates. The water stays cold, but doesn't freeze. Caution is needed for animals that may chew. Outdoor pets require additional food for energy and maintaining body heat in harsh climates.

    Heat Lamps

    Caution - Do not use a heat lamp, space heater, or other device not approved for use with animals. This is a burn and fire hazard for your pet. Pet supplies vendors sell heated mats for pets to sleep on, or to be placed under a dog house, but read and follow directions carefully before use.

    Ice and Snow

    Dogs should never be allowed off leash on snow or ice, especially during a snowstorm, as they frequently lose their scent during this time and can easily become lost or disoriented.

    If Your pet sleeps in the garage

    As mentioned above, be on the alert for any antifreeze leakage or antifreeze containers left out where they could spill or be chewed on. Also, do NOT start the car in a closed garage - for your safety and your pet's safety - carbon monoxide poisoning is a silent killer.

    NEVER leave your pet in your car

    During the winter months your vehicle can act as a refrigerator and hold the cold in.  Your companion will freeze to death very quickly, even with bedding in the car.

    Watch for signs of distress such as shivering, licking feet, refusing to play

    Did you know that your dog's normal temperature is a few degrees higher than yours? Winter is the perfect time of year to snuggle up – so have fun and stay warm!