Great Dane with red scarf



Be prepared, plan ahead and pay attention to cold-weather warnings. Most cold-weather episodes and winter storms are “shelter in place” events, so pet care needs should be planned for inside the home.

Keep your pet preparedness kit well-stocked and ready—in a winter storm, you may not be able to leave your home for several days. (Visit for information on preparing an emergency kit for your pets.)

Leave your pets’ coats a little longer in the winter to provide more warmth. That summer “short cut” from your groomer should be avoided during cold weather. If you have short-haired breeds, consider getting them a coat or sweater that covers them from neck to tail and around the abdomen.

When you bathe your dogs in cold weather, make sure they are completely dry before taking them outside for a romp or walk.

When walking your dogs during bad weather, keep them on leash. It’s easier for a dog to become lost in winter storm conditions. More dogs are lost during the winter than during any other season. And don’t forget to microchip and put ID tags on your dogs and cats!

Leash your pets if you have frozen ponds, lakes or rivers nearby, as loose pets can break through ice and quickly succumb to hypothermia before trained ice-rescue personnel can arrive. Never try an ice rescue of a pet yourself—leave that to trained professionals.

When you are working on housebreaking your new puppy, remember puppies are more susceptible to cold than are adult dogs. In cold conditions or bad weather, you may need to opt for paper training your new pet rather than taking the pup outside.

Keep your pets inside, both during the day and night. Just because they have fur doesn’t mean they can withstand cold temperatures.

If dogs are left outside, they should have a draft-free shelter large enough to stand and turn around in, yet small enough to retain body heat. Use a layer of straw or other bedding material to help insulate pets against the cold. A dog house with the opening off to the side and not in the center offers more protection from winter winds.Make sure the entrance to the shelter faces away from the direction of incoming wind and snow.

Keep your cats indoors. Cats can freeze in cold weather without shelter. Sometimes cats left outdoors in cold weather seek shelter and heat under the hoods of automobiles and are injured or killed when the ignition is turned on. Banging loudly on the hood of your car a few times before starting the engine will help avoid a tragic situation. (This is true for wild animals in cold weather as well).

When taking your pets out for a bathroom break, stay with them. If it’s too cold for you to stand outside, it is probably also too cold for your pets.