Winter Checklist to Keep Pets Safe & Healthy

Winter is coming and it’s time to put away our shorts and tanks and take out our sweaters and jeans. It’s also time to start looking around our houses and apartments to make sure that any winter items we have out are safe around our pets and to make sure they are warm during the cold months ahead too.

Winter Checklist for Pets:

✓ Keep the car winterizing chemicals out of reach from children and pets
✓ Use de-icers for the sidewalks and driveway that are pet safe like Safe Paw”
✓ Doggie coat to keep body heat in and snow and rain out
✓ Doggie boots to keep rock salt and other debris out of the paws and keep feet warm
✓ High protein pet food or supplements for your active pup
✓ Playtimes limited to make sure no one freezes or becomes a “pupsicle”
✓ Towels by the door to wipe off wet snow, ice, and clean the paws after being outside
✓ Keep up on grooming to remove debris and loose dead fur
✓ Everyone is inside at night
✓ Pet beds placed away from drafty windows
✓ ID tags and information up to date just in case

If you’re unsure what else your pet may need, always check with your vet. Have a fun winter!

For more tips to make sure your pet is ready for cold winter weather, check out all of these PetsWelcome articles:

Image from NBC – Philadelphia

Winter Pet Tips

The gang at PetsWelcome is preparing for winter and that means we are pulling out our long sleeve shirts, coats, and putting away all the summer and fall clothing. Our pets are also noticing the temperature changes and have been snuggling a little closer to us.

Every season brings with it fun places to travel and activities to do with our pets, but it also brings about new things to be aware of such as chemicals that are harmful to our pets, weather changes that can be harsh on them, and decorations and plants that could be dangerous.

We love our pets and know you do too. As we all prepare for winter weather and frosty mornings, keep the following tips in mind:

  1. Keep pets indoors as much as possible in cold weather. When they go out, stay with them. When you’re cold enough to go in, your pet is probably ready to return inside too.
  2. Make sure that your pet always has fresh, non-frozen drinking water.
  3. If you live near a pond or lake, be especially careful of ice. Keep your pet on a leash and stay with them when outdoors so they don’t run across the ice and risk falling through.
  4. Pets who go outdoors can pick up rock salt, ice, and chemical ice melts in their foot pads. Keep your pet’s pads from getting chapped and raw by wiping their feet with a washcloth when they come inside.
  5. Check under your car hood, honk, or rap on the hood before you start your car or truck engine. A cold cat will curl up against almost anything–including engines–to stay warm.

For more tips check out these articles:

Do Dogs Need Clothes?

Some of my friends have dogs that are fluffy and don’t wear sweaters or rain coats during the winter and some other friends of mine dress their dogs in everything from vests to seat jackets and little hats. I’ve also heard friends talk about how the pet product industry markets in a certain way to make us think our dogs need clothing.

Do Dogs Need Clothes?

While some dogs might not ever shiver or shake after a winter outing, others may come inside and need to be towel dried and warmed up. Sure most dogs have a layer of fur but some dogs have light layers and aren’t made to endure cold weather. Some may have good fur coverage on their backs and face but their belly might be exposed and get soaked while walking through the snow. Imagine if you walked about with full winter gear but then had flip flops on your feet, you’d have cold cold feet but might feel warm and dry everywhere else; that’s still uncomfortable and no fun.

A sweater or jacket can be helpful during the cold seasons, especially if your dog is hesitant to go outside to relieve himself. How warm your dog is able to physically keep himself depends on breed, size and age. Smaller breeds that naturally have very short or thin hair coats benefit from a warm dog sweater. Dogs that have short-cropped hair should also be given a sweater, as well as, older dogs with weaker immune systems and dogs with diseases that impair hair growth. If your dog is a breed that keeps a short hair cut, like a poodle, a sweater is a great idea too. However, dogs with dense hair coats could be very uncomfortable if they were forced to wear outer clothing, possibly to the point of physically overheating.

Did you get your dog a sweater or jacket for this winter?

Image from

Antifreeze: Keep Pets Safe

Winter weather can bring snow, ice, and sleet to your town. This means we pull out chemicals to keep our cars from stalling and our sidewalks from becoming ice rinks. Keep in mind that we could accidentally be exposing our pets to poisons. Antifreeze is a sweet tasting chemical and cats and dogs may lick it because of its sweetness.

A small amount of antifreeze can lead to kidney failure, stomach problems, and vomiting. If left untreated it can be fatal. Pets are often exposed to it from a car that has a small leak and puddles left in the gutters. They can also be exposed to it in the garage where spills occur.

Antifreeze is toxic because of the ingredient, ethylene glycol. It causes damage to kidneys and can harm the central nervous system. If your pet walks through a puddle of it in the street, in the garage, and licks their paws that can be enough antifreeze to cause severe illness or death. Immediate veterinary care is necessary to prevent the toxin from being absorbed into your pet’s liver.

Symptoms of antifreeze poisoning are as follows:

  1. your pet may appear confused
  2. vomiting
  3. depression
  4. increased thirst and urination
  5. sores appearing in the mouth
  6. lethargy

Take preventative measures and keep all toxins out of reach of your pets and your children

  • Wipe your pet’s feet when you come in from a walk to remove debris, chemicals, and dirt
  • Keep the antifreeze in a sealed container
  • Check your garage floor for spills
  • Check your car for leaks
  • Switch to a pet-safe antifreeze such as one that has propylene instead of ethylene

Image from

Winter Travel With Pets

Winter is a popular travel season in the United States – the weather is cold but great and the kids are out of school on break, making it an ideal time to pack up the family and head for the ski resorts or if you like warmer places, the sunny beach front resorts in warmer climates.

Winter is also an excellent time to take a trip that includes the family pet, especially if they love being out in the colder climates and playing in the snow.

No matter what the weather’s like outside your window right now, there’s no reason you can’t start dreaming – and planning – for next winter’s travels. And that’s where we come in. Here are some pet travel tips for the winter, plus links to articles we’ve written about pet-related events in the US during the winter months like pet parades, photos with Santa, and other fun winter events.

Winter Pet Travel Tips

Planning ahead can reduce stress and save time. Don’t forget the following items before you head out:

  1. Winterizing your car – keep all chemicals such as anti-freeze away from your pets. They may ingest some of it and can become incredibly ill.
  2. Medication – make sure you have enough of it for the duration of your time away from home. Pick up refills for your pet before you head out.
  3. Kennels and carriers – some places require that your pet be in a carrier or crate when left alone. A kennel is also a safe way to travel for your pet. Airlines have size restrictions for kennels that can travel in cabin. Check about restrictions and policies of the airline before booking.
  4. Never leave your pet in the car – the air in the car doesn’t circulate and the temperature can drop within minutes to a point where it can become life threatening.
  5. Rest stop areas mean everyone gets a break – take your dog out for a walk, offer some water and a snack.
  6. Identification – make sure the tags on your pet’s collar are up to date and fastened securely to the collar.
  7. Clean up after your pet – bring plastic bags, litter, or bedding. Wherever you stay, don’t forget to clean up after your pet.
  8. Vet records – bring a copy of your pet’s vaccines. Hotels and vacation rentals often ask for proof of your pet’s vaccines.
  9. Find the local emergency vet – know before you go where the emergency vet is in the area you are staying in case your pet becomes injured. It saves a lot of stress and time in the event that your pet needs immediate medical attention.
  10. Wipe the paws of your pet when coming inside from a walk – ice, debris, and chemicals to de-ice the sidewalks can become trapped between your dog’s toes and in the fur. If your dog licks his feet, he could become ill. Plus ice tangled in fur can be painful.

For more winter tips check out our articles:
Keep Your Pet Safe During Winter
Antifreeze: Toxic to Pets
Winter Pet Tips: Keeping Your Pets Warm and Dry

Winter Pet Events in the USA

Please note that these lists aren’t comprehensive – yet! If you know of an event for dogs, cats, horses, parrots, guinea pigs or anything else that you think should be added to our lists, please let us know!

Image from Oklahoma Alliance for Animals

Keep Your Pet Safe During Winter

Winter is here! There’s icy patches on the street, frost on our cars in the mornings, and we need to wear mittens and scarves. We’ve pulled out the big warm blankets, winterized our automobiles, and have scarves and mittens next to our keys. What about our pets?

Animals may be able to withstand the cold better than some of us but they can get frostbite, can get cold, and depending on the breed of dog or cat you have, need to stay inside and warm.

Remember the following tips to keep your buddy safe and warm:

  1. Keep all items like anti-freeze and de-icers on high shelves or in locked cabinets where your dog and cat can’t get to them or be exposed to them. Clean up any leaks and spills.
  2. If you use ice melters on the sidewalk use pet-friendly ones that are salt free and chloride free.
  3. When the temperature drops, keep your pet inside. If they do have to go out or insist on going outside, limit the time and monitor them. When you’re cold enough to go inside, they are too.
  4. Some dogs fair better in cold weather than others. If your dog is a short-haired dog or does not have an undercoat like a daschund or rhodesian ridgeback, make sure they aren’t out for too long and invest in a doggie coat. If your dog is a winter dog like a husky, chance are they’ll be ok but check for ice stuck to the fur when they come inside.
  5. If your cat is an indoor/outdoor cat, be aware they may look for somewhere warm to snuggle if it’s cold. Check your car engine or bang on your roof before starting your car. Cats can get caught in the engine and become seriously injured or worse.
  6. When the ground is covered in snow and ice, the scents that help animals figure out where they are get covered up and animals can get lost. Make sure your dog has all the ID needed on his/her collar and think about keeping your cats inside during the colder months.
  7. Do not let your dog off leash around frozen ponds or lakes. Animals can fall into the freezing water and have an extremely difficult getting out.
  8. Wipe your pet’s paws clean after coming in from the cold to remove any ice and dirt that can get tangled in the fur. Pets that go outside can pick up rock salt, ice, and chemical ice melts in their foot pads.
  9. Senior pets need some extra TLC during the cold weather days. Their joints may become super sensitive and tender. Walk behind them when they climb stairs or hills in case they slip. Keep their bedding in a place where there are no drafts.

Winter can be a lot of fun for you and your pets. With these tips, your buddy will be safer and happier too!