Skip to Content

Metro Animal Care and Control's Cold Weather Safety Tips for Pets


Metro Animal Care and Control reminds everyone to make sure your pets are safe when the temperatures drop.  Here are safety tips to remember throughout the Winter.

Please be considerate of your pets and bring them inside when temperatures reach dangerously cold levels.

According to Metro Ordinance, tethering a dog is not allowed when the temperature drops below 32 degrees.

Metro Ordinance requires puppies less than six months old and pregnant or nursing dogs must be brought inside.

If outside, pets need a warm, solid shelter like a dog house to protect against wind and elements and insulate their body against the cold.  The door of the shelter should be positioned away from wind. Space heaters and heat lamps should be avoided due to the risk of fire or burns.  It is best to elevate the floor of the shelter off the ground, and provide plenty of dry thick bedding that cannot become soaked with water.  Straw or cedar shavings work well.  Blankets and towels that absorb snow and water are not safe for pets because these items won't provide a warm, dry environment for your pet to maintain his body temperature in a safe zone.

Cold weather can exacerbate health issues, especially arthritis, so getting a veterinary checkup is important even for pets that seem healthy.

Identification - snow and frost can affect a pet's sense of smell and ability to find their way.  Microchip your pet and make sure they wear a well-fitting collar with identification tags so they can be reunited in the event they are separated from you!

Cold weather can lead to emergencies for human families, including power outages.  Make sure your family's emergency plan includes your pets!  Keep food and water on hand in case you are unable to make it to the store.

Just like people, pet's tolerance of the cold weather can vary based on their health, activity level, body fat stores, and haircoat characteristics.  Very young, elderly, and pets with chronic diseases are more sensitive to cold weather.  Consult your veterinarian for help determining your pet's temperature limits.  Pets should come inside anytime the temperatures drop below freezing.  Animals are definitely susceptible to frostbite just like us and can lose toes and ears to freezing injury.

Check paws frequently for signs of cold weather injury.  Ice can accumulate between toes and cause injury and limping. Your dog may accumulate de-icing chemicals on their feet and fur if walking the neighborhood during the winter - so wipe off their feet, legs, and belly after returning from a walk.

Antifreeze is deadly to pets, so be sure pets do not have access to these chemicals and clean up spills promptly.  This is especially important to consider if pets stay in a garage temporarily during cold weather - double check that no antifreeze or chemicals are pooled on the ground where pets can ingest them.

Outdoor pets will need increased calories in the winter to maintain their body condition and stay warm.  This is a fine line, because increasing their daily ration too much can risk obesity and associated medical problems.  It is best to speak to your veterinarian about your particular pet's dietary needs.  A good rule of thumb is to increase the amount you feed by 25%.  So if you typically feed your outdoor dog 2 cups of dry food each day, during the winter, he may need 2 and 1/2 cups of food each day to maintain his body condition.  It is best to keep a close eye on his weight and adjust accordingly.  Pets also need unlimited access to fresh non-frozen water.