Pets and Weather
Keeping Your Pet Safe in All Weather

No matter what the weather, the best way to ensure the comfort and safety of your pet is to keep it where you are comfortable and safe–in your house. Your pet should have easy access to your house during weather extremes: the hot, humid days of summer or the icy, cold days of winter.

If your pet isn't used to being indoors, he or she may not know the rules and demonstrate normal, but destructive, behaviors such as chewing and clawing. Just be sure to keep houseplants and valuables out of reach.

Pets with access to the outdoors during warm weather may also bring in unwanted guests, like fleas. And a change in seasons usually brings with it a change in coat. Regular brushing can reduce the amount of pet hair on your rugs and furniture.

Summer

Summer heat puts extra stress on our pet friends. Because of this, it's best to keep them inside where shade, water and cool air (either from air conditioning or open windows) can comfort them.

If your pet is outside all day, make sure he has a shady, grassy area (pavement tends to heat up in warm weather). Check at different times of the day to make sure the area is constantly shaded.

You may need to provide extra water in summer. Try larger water containers, or special devices that attach to an easy-to-reach faucet for unlimited access.

Most veterinarians don't recommend shaving dogs or cats, since the hair helps them insulate against heat. Heavy-coated breeds of dogs and cats are especially prone to heat illnesses, especially in hot, humid climates. Many heavy-coated dogs appreciate a wading pool to loll in on extra-hot days.

Other animals with an increased risk of overheating include senior pets, puppies and kittens, working pets and flat-faced breeds (Pugs, Bulldogs, Pekes, Persians).

If your dog or cat is used to running errands with you in your car, leave it at home during hot summer days. Even with the windows cracked, your car can reach 130 degrees inside in less than 30 minutes. Don't risk giving your pet heat stroke!

Jogging or biking with your dog can be dangerous in hot weather. Just as your body temperature rises during exercise, so does your pet's. But unlike you, dogs and cats can't sweat. They must pant to rid their bodies of excess heat–an ineffective means of cooling off if the air outside is as warm or warmer than inside the body.

Return to Top

Treating Overheating

Cold weather also brings special care requirements for your pets.

Again, the ideal place for your pets in cold weather is indoors where they have shelter from cold temperatures, drifting snow and ice. Outdoor pets require shelter with insulation, fresh food and water that doesn't freeze. Consider an electric bowl heater to keep water from freezing outdoors.

If you take your pet outside in snowy or icy weather, be sure to check its paws for cuts or ice balls. After walking on pavement treated with salt or chemical snow removers, wipe your pet's paws with a damp cloth. .

Return to Top

Winter

Proper tooth and gum care is also important for older pets. Dry foods, especially those with kibbles, may assist in maintaining good dental and oral health. You may also need to schedule regular appointments with your veterinarian to prevent dental scaling or periodontal disease.

Return to Top

Treating Frostbite

Cover chilled pets with blankets and allow them to regain normal body temperature gradually. Warm water baths,not hot baths,are another good way to gradually warm a chilled pet. Don't use electric blankets or heating pads as they can burn your pet's skin.

If your pet is severely chilled or unresponsive, take him to your veterinarian immediately.

Return to Top

Other Wintertime Concerns

Antifreeze (containing ethylene glycol) poses a special danger to pets in winter. Both dogs and cats are attracted by the sweet taste, and mere teaspoonfuls can cause kidney damage or death.

If you keep cars and pets in your garage, be sure your radiator does not leak. If you suspect your pet has ingested antifreeze, contact your veterinarian immediately.

Treatment within two to four hours can save some pets.

Carbon monoxide poisoning is another potential problem for pets kept in the garage with vehicles during winter months. Never start your car and let it warm up in the garage unless you remove your pet during this time.

Return to Top