Winter Pet Safety

Wind-chill, frostbite, hypothermia – the cold can be dangerous and deadly for our pets if we fail to take proper precautions to ensure their safety.

As a responsible pet owner, learn how to care for your animals when the temperature dips. For example, you need to provide adequate shelter to protect your animals from the winter wind-chill and snow. If possible, keep your pets indoors and always check to make sure that Buster or Fluffy is safely inside before nightfall.

Of course, due to allergies or the reality that some animals are outdoor pets, some of our furry friends will have to stay out in the cold. The Ontario SPCA recommends that outdoor pets should have a draft-free, weatherproof, elevated and insulated structure with a flap-door that faces away from prevailing winds.

Inside the dog or cat-house, there should be straw that the animals can snuggle into. Cotton blankets and pillows are not as good as straw because if they become damp from snow or the animal’s body moisture, the bedding can freeze and does not dry quickly.

Make sure your pets always have access to water. If your four-legged friends are outdoors, this may mean you need to break the ice out of the water bowl several times a day and replenishing it with warm water.

Common-sense safety includes not leaving your pets in a parked car, even if you are only planning on being gone for a few minutes. Bring them with you and make sure they stay warm.

On very cold days, take indoor pets outside for shorter periods. Keep them active by playing with them indoors.

Dry winter air can cause itchy, dry skin. Consider using a humidifier in your home to regulate the air moisture.

If you give your pets baths, make sure their lush fur coats are completely dry before going outside for a walk. Also consider that ice, salt and snow easily lodge in paws, so when you get home from a walk, have a pan of warm water and towel to rinse that residue away. Alternately, equip your pets with waterproof boots to protect sensitive paws.  

Keep in mind that weather conditions can change quickly. Stay up-to-date on the forecast and adjust your pet care as necessary.

Finally, if you suspect or are aware of animal abuse, contact your local police or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.


For more information, please contact:

Catherine Benesch

Communications/Media Program Coordinator, Canada Safety Council

(613) 739-1535 (ext. 228)