As temperatures continue to stay below freezing and the snow is piled up in some parts of the country, humans aren’t the only ones who should be wary of the cold! Pets can suffer from frostbite and hypothermia in winter weather just like we can. Check out our complete guide to cold weather safety below.

How to help an animal suffering outside in the cold:
Call your local animal shelter or animal cruelty department and make them aware of the situation. Find a local no-kill shelter by visiting this website.

Create a basic shelter for feral or stray cats by finding a warm, dry place to place a box with blankets and food.

Basic rules:
The most important rule is that if it’s too cold for you, it’s almost certainly too cold for your pet, so keep your animals inside. Cats and dogs shouldn’t roam freely outside during dangerous winter weather. Cats are known to climb under the hoods of cars during cold weather to be near warm engines and can be hurt or even killed when the car is started. Some animals can also become disoriented in snow or icy weather. 

Give your pets increased rations of food since they burn more calories during winter weather in an attempt to keep warm. Also, make sure that animals are free of internal parasites, which can steal vital nutrients.

Clean off your dogs’ or cats’ legs, feet, and stomachs after they come in from the snow. Salt and other chemicals can make animals sick if they are ingested while the animals are cleaning themselves. Putting petroleum jelly or other paw protectants onto paw pads before going outside can help protect from salt and chemical agents. Booties provide even more coverage and can also prevent sand and salt from getting lodged between bare toes and causing irritation.

Signs your dog has had enough of the cold:
Whining or barking: Some dogs are more verbal than others, but if your dog suddenly begins ‘talking’ to you while making eye contact, he’s trying to tell you he’s had enough.

They stop moving: If your dog stops walking or playing, or is holding up a paw, he may have balls of snow or ice between the pads of his feet. He may also be too cold and needs to go inside.

Anxiety: Many dogs, when they get too cold, will begin acting anxious or even fearful. He may try to climb up your leg to be held or may turn around and head home. The anxiety may turn into whining or barking.

Looking for Safety: Some dogs will begin looking for a place to hide – under a bush, under a car, or anything else that might provide shelter.


American Veterinary Medical Association