Skip to content

Healthy Pets

Pet Winter Safety: Prepping Your Pet for Winter Weather

When the weather outside is frightful, these winter pet tips can keep your precious pets snug, safe, and warm.
Font Size
A
A
A
By
WebMD Pet Health Feature
Reviewed by Audrey Cook, BVM&S

If you have a dog that spends most of its time romping in your backyard, or a kitty that whiles away the day in a sunny patch on the front porch, winter's arrival may be a rude awakening. Sure, your precious pets are covered in fur. But many just aren’t equipped to be out in frigid temperatures for prolonged periods.

So how can you make sure your four-legged friends are warm and well-cared for when the mercury dips? WebMD talked to veterinarians and pet owners and got their top tips on winter safety for pets, from protecting pets that spend a lot of time outdoors to tips on getting your pooch to potty outside when wintry winds blow.

Recommended Related to Pets

The Laying on of Paws

By Julia Szabo Volunteering their time wherever help is needed, trained therapy animals and their human partners are helping to make the world a healthier place.   If your outgoing pet thrives on attention, you can maximize your bonding time together -- and make a profound contribution to your community -- by becoming therapy partners. Across the country, these volunteer teams dedicate themselves to lifting spirits at hospitals, nursing homes, and anywhere else they're needed. "It's...

Read the The Laying on of Paws article > >

Keeping Warm: Fur Isn't Flawless

We may admire our pets' plush coats, but as beautiful as fur is, it's not a perfect insulator, especially when it's very cold.

In winter, pets can suffer from the weather extremes "for the same reason that mountain climbers can get hypothermia no matter what type of protective clothing they are wearing," says Oregon veterinarian Marla J. McGeorge, DVM. "Mammalian systems for heat retention and regulation can be overwhelmed by excessive cold."

And, if an animal's coat gets wet, the fur loses much of its insulating ability, McGeorge tells WebMD. For cats and dogs with short fur, the protection is even more minimal, "sort of like wearing a T-shirt when it's below freezing." Your pet's toes, nose, and ears are even more vulnerable to chilly temps.

That's why, in winter, pets need protection from extreme temperatures, which includes warm, dry, draft-free shelter; plenty of food; and lots of water. Take precautions any time the temperatures drop below freezing, says Jean Sonnenfield, DVM, an Atlanta veterinarian. And remember, if it’s too cold for you, it’s probably too cold for your pet.

Pet Winter Safety: Should Your Pet Dress for the Weather?

We don coats to face the frigid temps, so it seems natural to think that coats for dogs and cats might offer them similar protection from the elements. The vets we talked to agreed -- to a point.

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6

Today on WebMD

Puppy digging hole
Are you putting your pet at risk?
Cat looking at fish
Things we can learn from our pets.
 
dog and kitten
27 ways pets help your health.
tick
Get the facts about prevention.
 
Woman holding puppy
Article
Sad dog and guacamole
Slideshow
 
Siamese cat eating from bowl
Slideshow
cat on couch
Evaluator
 

Love your pets, hate your allergies?

Get tips for relief.

Loading ...

Sending your email...

This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.

Thanks!

Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

Cat People vs Dog People Slideshow
Slideshow
Kitten playing
Quiz
 
Orange cat nuzzling woman
Slideshow
German shephard reading a book
Quiz