Winter 101


Your Pet and Winter Weather : The Furry Facts

Although our winter had a mild start this year, I believe it can be agreed upon that we had some unpredictably frigid days and a blizzard comeour way without warning.  Although we know what needs to be done to keep ourselves warm, healthy, and free of complications, there is uncertainty when it comes to our pets…..I believe it’s due to the fact that they can’t really speak our language! After seeing pets tackle winters for many years now, I have gained some insight into what we as pet owners need to know to keep our furry friends warm, healthy, and free of complications. These following tips can bring peace of mind as we welcome the winter season!

1. What weather is considered too cold for my pet?

How cold a pet can get depends on the pets breed. Before you put on any warming clothes, I encourage you to do some research about the breed’s origin.

  • Some dog breeds already have athick undercoat that keeps them warm. This is because the breed has evolved over time, and has adapted to much cooler climates from which it originated. If you have a healthy pet with a healthy coat that originated from a cooler climate, putting on any warming accessoriesmay cause heat exhaustion ifexpected to engage in a lot of activity.
  • It is generally known that breeds with thin hair coats and our small breed dogs have a more difficult time in the winter asthey do not acclimate to the colder weather well. It should also be noted that pets with medical conditions, puppies and geriatric dogs are more susceptible to the cold weather. Be very cautious when taking themoutdoors in inclement weather.

 2. How your pet communicates that he/she is too cold.

Continue to monitor your dog in the beginning of the season so you get a better idea of the signs your pet will give you when he/she is cold.

Signs that generally may mean your pet is cold include shaking, shivering, trying to huddle, or seekingwarmth to name a few. After you have made an educated decision regarding whether or not an extra layer of warmth is needed, you can find below some general rules of thumb to follow while considering clothing for your pet!

  • Make sure that the clothing is appropriately fitted. Your pet should be able to move freely without any obvious signs of difficulty breathing. Your pet should also be able to posture to urinate/defecate easily.
  • Give your pet some time to acclimate to their new accessory! Some pets can get really stressedwhen these accessories are placedon them and it is important to look for signs of anxiety. Gradually introducing your pet to their accessories is the way to go.
  • Last but not least, use common sense when purchasing and placing a winter accessory on your pet! If you are uncertain of any accessory, feel free to give us a call!

3. Some final thoughts and general tips regarding coldweather

  • If it is really cold, do a short leash walk with your pets near your home so they can relieve themselves.
  • Pets can get frostbite!! So please return home if your pet shows any indication of being cold as discussed above.
  • Salt on icy sidewalks is painful for thosecute little footpads! It can cause drying out and then cracking of the footpads. If you notice any abnormalities of your pet’s footpads, I strongly recommend that you schedule an appointment so we could better assess them and prescribe the right therapy!
  • Make sure that the hairs in between the toes are trimmed appropriately because they can accumulate ice! This can then lead to irritation, pain, and can predispose them to frostbite eventually.
  • Promptly wipe down and dry off the feet and the underbelly of your pet when you come home! This will help prevent them from licking any impurities off of themselves while they groom.


Warm Regards, 

Iwona Popkowski, DVM 




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