Winter care tips for your pet
Review these tips to keep pets safe and healthy during the fall and winter seasons.
• Keep cats indoors and shorten exercise
walks for dogs when the temperature falls.
Safe outdoor temperatures for pets vary by
breed and size.
• If your pet must be outside at all, provide
adequate shelter. A dog house should be
no more than three times the dog’s size. The
door should face away from the wind—usually
south. And avoid blankets and straw—they can
harbor fleas. Use cedar shavings for bedding
instead. Provide similar shelter or access to a
building for outdoor cats.
• Never allow your dog to walk on a lake or
pond that looks frozen. The appearance of
ice can be deceiving and pets can fall through
2. Parasite prevention
• Continue using monthly flea, tick, and
heartworm preventives. Pets should take these
preventives year-round. Remember, it’s often
easier and cheaper to prevent parasites than
treat them when a pet’s infested or infected.
Take your pet for fecal exams for internal
parasites at least yearly, and keep your yard
clean of feces.
3. Motor vehicles and antifreeze
• When the weather cools, cats like to sleep
near a warm car engine, curling up on or under
the hood. So be sure you know where your
cat is and honk the horn before starting your car.
• Antifreeze can be lethal. It tastes sweet to
pets and contains ethylene glycol, a toxic agent.
So always clean up any antifreeze if it spills.
Contact your veterinarian immediately if you
suspect your pet has consumed antifreeze.
4. Diet, food, and water
• Like people, outdoor pets can burn
more calories in the winter. However, most
indoor pets don’t need their diet adjusted
for different seasons. Your veterinarian can
help determine whether your pet’s diet is
adequate and balanced.
• To prevent dehydration, be sure your
pet’s water supply doesn’t freeze. And use
a non-metal water dish to keep your pet’s
tongue from sticking.
• Candy, especially chocolate, can make pets
sick. A stomachache is the milder side effect,
but chocolate poisoning—caused by theobromine,
a compound found naturally in chocolate
and related to caffeine—can be fatal.
• Rock salt, used to melt snow and ice, can
irritate paw pads. Clean pads thoroughly after
a trip outside.
• Uneven, icy surfaces can slash dogs’ paw
pads, so keep your dog on a leash or dress him
in canine booties.
• Without hard surfaces to act as a natural
file, dogs’ toenails grow longer in winter, so
regularly clip your pet’s nails.
• If you have a tree-climbing cat or large
dog, consider securing your holiday tree by
anchoring the top of the tree to a wall using
strong cord or rope. Make sure any presents
accessible to pets are securely wrapped, and
don’t use ribbon or raffia.
• Frequently check the ground around
holiday trees. Ingested pine needles can
puncture pets’ intestines.
• Keep all tree ornaments, yarn, ribbon, and
garlands well out of pets’ reach by hanging
them high on the tree. Don’t use tinsel.
• Keep lit candles out of pets’ reach.
• Holly, mistletoe, and poinsettia plants are
poisonous when consumed. Enjoy their beauty
while keeping pets safe by placing them well
out of pets’ reach.
• Puppies and kittens like to chew, so keep
electrical cords out of reach.
• When entertaining, be sure guests know
these and other household rules that help
keep your pet safe.