Pet Connections

Five ways to keep your pets safe from winter cold

You might think dogs and cats are immune from winter, because of their nice, warm coats and thick paw pads. Actually, pets can suffer from frostbite, hypothermia and other winter dangers.

Fortunately, our pets have a secret weapon to protect them, and it’s not fur. The secret weapon is you.

As a pet owner, you have the power to make wise decisions for your precious four-legged family members. That’s why veterinarians at PVSEC, the Pittsburgh Veterinary Specialty & Emergency Center, put together this list of tips on how you can keep your pets safe this winter.

  • Don’t leave your pets out in the cold for extended periods of time. A short jaunt outside for them to do their business is generally fine, but bring them inside if they start to shiver or if you see redness in their ears or tails. Once inside, help get ice out from between their toes.
  • Keep pets on leashes so they don’t get confused and lost – which is very easy in the snow. Be sure your dogs and cats are wearing identification tags, and don’t forget to have them microchipped. Some dog owners buy reflective dog collars and flashing clip-on lights like bicycle riders use. Also, consider a GPS pet tracker such as Whistle. This allows you to pinpoint the location of your dogs or cats in real time if they get lost.
  • Do you spread de-icer on your driveway or sidewalks? If so, find one that’s pet-friendly. Pets tend to lick de-icer off their paws, which means they can consume toxins or even too much salt.
  • Don’t forget the indoor dangers of winter. If your pets spend more time in the garage or basement to get out of the cold, make sure you clear those spaces of toxic rat poison and antifreeze (including antifreeze that leaks onto the garage floor.) Also, cats love to curl up inside a warm auto engine, which can go badly the next time a human fires up the car.
  • People and pets spend more time indoors during winter, and this means all of us are likely to put on a few pounds. Pet obesity is actually a widespread problem. So monitor your pets’ food intake and treats carefully during winter. Also, consider taking them to an indoor dog park or doggie daycare to get them exercising, even in colder months.
  • Don’t be afraid to get a dog coat or sweater, especially for a short-haired dog. This can be a functional way of keeping your pet warm.
  • Be aware of your family veterinarian’s locations and hours, in case pet does suffer from a winter emergency. Also, make sure you’re aware of the nearest 24-hour emergency animal hospital.

Veterinarians at PVSEC, which is part of the BluePearl network of emergency and specialty animal hospitals, also want you to remember to have fun in the winter with you pets. A nice little romp in the snow can be a pleasure, as long as you keep safety in mind.


December 14, 2023
December 14, 2023


December 14, 2023