Cold Weather and Your Pet
January 31, 2013
Many pet owners love spending time with their furry friend
outside, but during the cold winter months pet owners need to take
special precautions to ensure that their pet stays warm and healthy
when the temperature drops.
"The good thing is that for most areas of Texas, even the
'winter months' do not get cold enough to cause serious problems in
our pets or even most large animals," said Alison Diesel, lecturer
at the Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine
& Biomedical Sciences. "The thick coats of most domestic animal
species are sufficient to provide protection from the cold here in
Texas, but on the rare occasion of a colder day some other things
could be considered."
One precaution pet owners must take is making sure dogs, cats,
and other large animal species have an adequate defense from the
cold when they are outside.
"Making sure blankets are available and dry can be extremely
helpful for this purpose," said Diesel. "Also, as with people,
turning up the heat can help keep our pets warm as well."
For smaller pets simply keeping them inside during the colder
times can be the most beneficial. Nonetheless, short exposure to
the outside cold can be fine and is usually not detrimental to the
"Dogs and cats shiver a lot like people. This action is used to
help generate body heat in cold climates," said Diesel. "If your
pet shivers while outside, shorten the length of your trips
together to help reduce this trembling. Providing extra bedding
like blankets and towels will also keep your pets warm and
For larger pets that cannot come inside, making sure they have
an adequate outdoor shelter is important to their comfort and
safety. Shelters such as dog houses and stables can be very helpful
during cold winds, and should have extra bedding (blankets, towels,
hay, etc.) added for additional warmth.
"An important thing to remember for outdoor pets is to make sure
they always have a fresh supply of water," said Diesel. "If it gets
cold enough to freeze this should be checked regularly to make sure
the water doesn't freeze over. Moving water sources like
fountains are less likely to do this."
Conditions like frostbite and hypothermia, while not typical in
warmer climates like Texas, are severe conditions that are common
in colder climates.
"Dehydration is a possibility as well if your pet's water source
freezes over," said Diesel.
About Pet Talk
Pet Talk is a service of the College of Veterinary Medicine
& Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University. Stories can be
viewed on the Web at vetmed.tamu.edu/news/pet-talk.
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