Health Department

Seasonal Pet Care Tips

Winter Tips to Keep Your Pets Safe

There are many factors including age, breed, size, and health of the animal, as well as the temperature, wind chill factor, and weather conditions that help to determine if it is safe for your pet to remain outside during the cold winter months.  It takes planning and preparation to provide proper care for all outside pets to ensure their comfort and safety.  Below are some tips to help keep your pets safe this winter.

Proper Shelter

  • Provide a well-insulated, waterproof house with an elevated floor. Put straw or cedar chips inside the house and on the ground surrounding the house. Avoid using blankets, which will become wet and freeze.
  • The house should be big enough for your pet to sit up and lie down in comfortably, yet small enough to hold in body heat.
  • Turn the house toward the south. For added protection, add a door flap to protect the dog from cold winds and rain.
  • Plastic pet carriers, wire crates, and sheds are NOT considered adequate shelter.
  • Heated mats or heat lamps may also be used to provide adequate warmth and comfort.

Food and Water

  • Outside dogs burn more calories during the winter to produce body heat. Increasing daily food rations may be necessary to ensure the dog’s ability to maintain his body temperature and a healthy body weight.
  • Pets must have clean, potable water at all times, and it may be necessary to replace the water several times each day due to freezing. Heated water bowls will be needed if you are unable to change the water when it becomes frozen.

The following pets are considered at high risk for frostbite and hypothermia and should not be left outside for long periods of time when temperatures drop below 40 degrees:

  • Cats and kittens
  • Puppies
  • Sick or injured pets
  • Shorthaired dogs, such as Rottweilers, Pointers, and Boxer
  • Elderly pets
  • Underweight pets
  • Small dogs

All pets should be brought inside if temperatures drop below 20 degrees with wind chill factors taken into consideration.

For questions concerning pet care or to report an animal that may not be receiving adequate care, contact Independence Animal Services at 816-325-7205.