Prepare Now to Keep Pets Safe this Winter

Seven Life-Saving Cold Weather Safety Tips from the Humane Society of Missouri

With the first official day of winter just around the corner and cold weather on the way, the Humane Society of Missouri urges all pet owners to get prepared for the weather to come. Pets trust their owners to keep them safe and warm during the winter.

The Humane Society of Missouri reminds pet parents that if it’s too cold for you, it’s too cold for your pets. Remember our life-saving motto this winter:


Under 35, Bring Rover Inside!

Throughout the season, keep in mind the Humane Society of Missouri’s seven tips to keep pets safe from dangerously cold temperatures.

  1. Bring pets in: Don’t leave pets outside in the cold for prolonged periods of time. Remember – thermometers might show one temperature, but wind chills can make it feel much colder. Limit time outdoors and be mindful of frostbite on ears, the tail and paws. If you run with your dog, pay attention to cold paws and, if it gets too cold, leave your pup at home. Cats should always be kept indoors, as “outdoor” cats can often become victims of road traffic or wild animals and are susceptible to freezing or starving to death in severely cold weather.
  2. Acclimate pets to cold weather: If pets spend a lot of time outdoors, make sure to introduce them gradually to dropping temperatures, rather than exposing them to the cold all at once.

  1. Provide adequate shelter: For outdoor dogs, owners should provide a well-insulated, draft-free, appropriately sized doghouse. The opening should face south with a sturdy, flexible covering to prevent icy winds from entering. Line the floors of the shelter with straw, not hay. Do not use towels or blankets, which can become damp or freeze.
  2. Beware of antifreeze and rock salt: Antifreeze often collects on driveways and roadways. Although it smells and tastes sweet to your pet, it is poisonous. If pets have ingested antifreeze, contact your veterinarian immediately! Also, de-icing products like rock salt can irritate footpads. Be sure to rinse and dry pets’ paws after being outside. Pet stores often carry pet-safe ice melts that do the job and won’t harm your pets.
  3. Take care of their coats: Pets need to be well-groomed to stay properly insulated. Short- or coarse-haired dogs might get extra cold so consider a sweater or a coat. Long-haired dogs should have their paw hair trimmed to ease in cleaning and snow removal. Also, be mindful of keeping pets dry; a wet pet is a cold pet. Towel or blow-dry pets if they get wet from rain or snow.
  4. Provide plenty of food and water: It takes more energy in the winter to properly regulate body temperature, so pets may need additional calories when spending a lot of time playing or working outdoors. Pets are just as likely to get dehydrated in the winter as in the summer, so be sure to provide plenty of fresh water. Snow is not a substitute for water. Refill outside bowls often to prevent freezing.
  5. Use Caution with Heat Sources: Space heaters and other supplemental heat sources can burn your pet. Keep portable heaters out of reach and make sure all fireplaces have adequate screening. And, of course, never leave pets alone with an unattended fire.

To report an animal in distress, call the Humane Society of Missouri Animal Cruelty Hotline at (314) 647-4400. For more information on how to care for your pets during cold weather months, visit the Humane Society of Missouri website or email


About Humane Society of Missouri

Since 1870, the Humane Society of Missouri has been dedicated to second chances, providing a safe and caring haven to all animals in need – large and small – that have been abused, neglected or abandoned. The organization’s mission is to end the cycle of abuse and pet overpopulation through rescue and investigation efforts, spay/neuter programs and educational classes. The Humane Society of Missouri is committed to creating lasting relationships between people and animals through adoption programs, and further supports that bond by making available world-class veterinary care, and outstanding pet obedience and behavior programs. The Humane Society of Missouri operates at three locations in the St. Louis metro region, in St. Louis City, Maryland Heights and Chesterfield Valley.