Downeast Dog News

Words, Woofs and Meows

Cold Weather and Holiday Tips for Pets
By Don Hanson, ACCBC, BFRAP, CDBC, CPDT-KA | Oct 27, 2017

Like it or not, winter is coming, and we need to consider how this change in seasons affects our pets.

Dealing with the Cold, Snow, and Ice

• Once the temperature drops below 20 degrees, it is time to bring our pets inside with us. When they are out, make sure your pets are not exposed to the cold for extended periods of time. Be aware that the wind chill affects your pet just like it affects you.

• Shorter haired dogs or dogs acclimated to warmer climates may need a coat to stay comfortable when it gets cold outside.

• When your dog is outdoors, make sure it has access to adequate shelter at all times. Dog houses should be positioned or designed such that the wind does not blow through the door into the house.

• If your pet is outdoors, make sure it always has access to fresh water. If the temperature drops below freezing, you will need a heater for his water bowl. Snow is not an acceptable substitute!

• When your pet is indoors, make sure it has a warm, dry spot that is away from drafts. Tile floors and uncarpeted areas may become cold and uncomfortable.

• If you have a long-haired pet, make sure you keep it groomed and free of mats and tangles. While long hair will act as an insulator, it loses its insulating properties when it becomes matted.

• If your pet has long hair on its feet or in between its pads, you may want to have your groomer cut that hair short, so it does not accumulate snow when your pet is outdoors.

• If your pet is out in the cold a great deal, you may want to increase the amount you feed it as it will be expending additional calories to stay warm.

• If your pet gets wet in the rain or snow, dry it off with a towel when it comes back inside.

• If your pet has been walking on areas that have been treated with salt or any deicer, wipe its feet and pads with a damp cloth. You may want to consider using one of the products for melting ice that is safe for pets.

• Leaving your pet in a car can be just as problematic in the winter time as it is in the summer. If you leave the motor running, always leave a window partially open in case you have an exhaust leak.

• Be careful if your pet has access to frozen ponds or streams. It can slip and fall in, or the ice can break, and it can fall in.

• Crusty snow and ice can have sharp edges that can cut the skin and pads of some of the thinner skinned breeds.

Other Seasonal Hazards

• Antifreeze, which often collects on driveways and roadways, is highly poisonous. Although it may smell and taste good to your pet, it can be lethal.

• Be very careful of supplemental heating sources, especially those with a flame. Fireplaces and portable heaters can severely burn your pet. Make sure all fireplaces have screens and keep portable heaters out of reach.

• Make sure your wood is stacked securely so that your pet cannot cause it to fall over.

• Be aware that cats often will crawl into an engine compartment of a vehicle to keep warm. Slap your hood before starting your car in the morning.

• Like people, pets seem to be more susceptible to illnesses in the winter. Do take your pet to a veterinarian if you see any suspicious symptoms.

• Don't use over-the-counter medications on your dog without first consulting with your veterinarian.

For tips on pets specific to the holidays, check my blog at


Don Hanson is the co-owner of the Green Acres Kennel Shop ( in Bangor. He is a Bach Foundation Registered Animal Practitioner (BFRAP), Certified Dog Behavior Consultant (CDBC), Associate Certified Cat Behavior Consultant (ACCBC) and a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA). He produces and co- hosts a weekly radio show and podcast, The Woof Meow Show heard on The Pulse AM620 WZON and streamed at every Saturday at 9 AM. A list of upcoming shows and podcasts of past shows can be found at Don also writes about pets at his blog: He is committed to pet care and pet training that is free of pain, force, and fear. The opinions in this column are those of Don Hanson.