Winter Weather Tips for Animals

When the weather gets wet and wild, you want to take extra precautions to ensure pets and livestock remain healthy by following simple guidelines:

  • Make sure your fences and gates are secure - Winter winds and weather can topple your fence and provide an opportunity for your pet to get out.
  • Make sure your pets are wearing their ID - If you pet does get out during winter weather, if they are wearing ID, people can contact you if they find your pet, and if you pet is picked up by Animal Control, we will know how to contact you.
  • Keep pets indoors when the temperature drops and the storm picks up - Bring your pets indoors when the weather gets cold. Most dogs and all cats, are safer indoors, except when taken out for exercise. Short-coated dogs may feel more comfortable wearing a sweater during walks.
  • When left outdoors, protect them from windchill and wet weather - If your pet is an outdoor pet, they must be protected by a dry, draft-free shelter that is large enough to allow comfortable sitting but small enough to hold in body heat. The floor should be raised a few inches off the ground and covered with cedar shavings or straw. The house should be turned to face away from the wind, and the doorway should be covered with waterproof burlap or heavy plastic. These guidelines are recommended for small livestock such as sheep and goats. Rabbits kept in outside hutches also need protection from the wind and should be provided with a nesting box with extra bedding of straw or shavings.
  • Pets and livestock who spend a lot of time outdoors need more food in the winter - Keeping warm depletes energy. Check with your vet on how to best modify food intake to compensate for the expended energy.
  • Routinely check your pet's water dish - Make certain the water is fresh and unfrozen. Use plastic food and water bowls rather than metal; when the temperature is low, your pet's tongue can stick and freeze to metal.
  • Check your car in the morning - Warm engines in parked cars attract cats and small wildlife, which may crawl up under the hood. To avoid injuring any hidden animals, bang on your car's hood to scare them away before starting your engine.
  • Keep antifreeze (and all household chemicals) away from animals - Antifreeze is a deadly poison, but it has a sweet taste that may attract animals and children. Wipe up spills and store antifreeze (and all household chemicals) out of reach. Better yet, use antifreeze-coolant made with propylene glycol; if swallowed in small amounts, it will not hurt pets, wildlife, or your family.

Guidelines have been adapted with permission from The Humane Society of the United States.