Winter Care for Pets

In many areas, winter is a season of bitter cold and numbing wetness. Make sure your four-footed family members stay safe and warm during the winter months.

Prepare NOW

If you have outdoor pets, make sure they have a dry, draft-free house that:

  • Is large enough for pets to sit and lie down in, but small enough to rain their body heat.
  • Has a floor that is elevated off the ground and is covered with cedar shavings or straw.
  • Has an entrance that faces away from heavy winds and is covered with a flap of heavy waterproof fabric or heavy plastic.

Build a kit for your pet! Just as you do with your family's emergency kit, think about the items your pet may need such as food, water, and medicine.


If it's too cold for you, it's probably too cold for your pets. Don't keep pets outdoors for long periods of time during cold weather. Consider the following:

  • Provide extra food and water. Pets that spend time outdoors in the winter use a lot of energy to stay warm. Provide extra food and check on their water dish to ensure the water is not frozen.
  • Check the paws. Cold weather can create cracked paw pads and/or bleeding. Protect pets from the risk of salt and chemical poisoning. Dogs are at particular risk of poisoning due to licking ice-melt chemicals from their paws after a walk.
  • Play dress up. Sweaters and blankets add an extra layer of warmth for pets with shorter-coats.
  • Keep antifreeze out of reach from pets. Antifreeze has a sweet taste that can attract animals. Keep it away from pets and clean up any spills right away to avoid antifreeze poisoning.

Respond AFTER

Consider improving your preparedness plan. Restock supplies that you may have used. Add new items to your kit that you may have not considered.