Winter Pet Safety


Keeping our Furry Friends Safe

In the Chicago area, wintertime presents significant challenges for pet owners. Even though most household pets are covered in fur, it doesn’t mean that you can let them out for hours or days at a time to let them fend for themselves. Responsible pet owners understand that they need to adjust their routine to keep their furry family members from danger and even death.

When the outside temperature drops below 20 degrees, it’s best to keep all your animals indoors - except when exercising or relieving themselves. Even “outdoor” dogs should have a dry, comfortable, draft-free doghouse that is big enough to allow the dog to sit and lie down, but small enough to hold in his body heat. The floor should be raised a few inches off the ground and covered with cedar shavings or straw. Pet stores carry safe heated floor mats and non-electric warm bedding. The doorway should be covered with waterproof burlap or heavy plastic.

During the Winter, There is No Such Thing as an Outdoor Dog

Pets require more calories in lower temperatures because exercise is more strenuous in cold weather, and higher food intake will help your pet maintain their body temperature. Check with your vet to find out how much more food they need during the winter. 

Your pet needs fresh water at all times, especially in winter when dehydration is common. Check their water bowl on a regular basis to make sure it’s full. 

Your pet’s skin is dryer in the winter and can result in “doggie dandruff” and even cracking. Check with your vet to see if he recommends adding a tablespoon of vegetable oil to your pet’s food. If your dog has short-hair, you should buy him a sweater for his walks. Also Paw pads can get frostbite. Use a towel to wipe off paws when he comes inside.

After a heavy snowfall, be sure to shovel a path in your yard so your dog doesn’t have to work hard to find a place to go potty. In extremely frigid weather, don’t take long walks. The salt and chemicals used to de-ice roads can irritate their paws. If your dog’s paws do come in contact with these substances when out for a walk, rinse the feet off and dry thoroughly once back in the house.

winter pet safety 2

More Cold Weather Dangers

Antifreeze and windshield wiper fluid spilled on your driveway may smell sweet to both dogs and cats. As little as a teaspoon of these substances can kill your pet.

Cold weather can aggravate your pet’s arthritis, especially if they are overweight. If your pet is having trouble getting up or laying down, climbing the stairs or has started to snap or cry when picked up, call your vet, who can offer several treatments for arthritis. Don’t medicate your dog with human medicine of any kind.

If you see an animal left out in the cold, speak to its owner or notify your local police or animal welfare agency. Their owners may not know about the dangers of leaving a pet out in the cold for extended periods of time.


Obviously this information is not about buying or selling real estate (which is what most of my posts are about). However, this topic is important to consider, and animals have a special place in my heart. Please let me know if you have any questions - I’m happy to help!