Cold Weather Tips: How to Keep Your Animals Safe

Winter is here: Are you prepared for these frigid temperatures?

Other parts of the country may be well adapted to extreme winter weather, but in the next few days, Georgia is going to see some of the coldest weather in it’s history. Are you prepared for these low temperatures? Practice owners, do you know how to prepare the building for such cold weather?
We’ve got tips to help you prepare as well as to share with your clients!

Tips for your companion animal clients

  • Keep your dog’s paws clean of ice and snow to prevent accumulation and injury.
  • Wipe paws after walks to remove antifreeze, salt, and other chemicals.
  • “Pet Safe”/ “Kid Safe” antifreeze formulas still should be kept out of reach of pets and children.
  • Cold tolerance varies on age, health, weight, and coat of the animal, so be diligent in monitoring how your pets are responding to the cold.
  • Prepare a disaster response kit for cold weather emergencies (example provided below!)
  • Offer a variety of warm spots to sleep in the house, as pets like to adjust location based on their needs
  • Keep your pet up to date on annual exams as some conditions can worsen in cold weather.
  • If you’re providing cat boxes for strays or ferals, be sure to use straw. Blankets can absorb moisture and freeze.
  • Make a note of when your primary DVM is closed and what emergency facilities are open.
  • Stray cats and small wildlife may hide under your car for warmth. Bang on the hood to scare them away and out of danger.

Farm animals and livestock

  • Provide appropriate shelter that stays dry. Keeping things dry is key.
  • Abundant and accessible feed and water will help livestock maintain body temperature.
  • Educate your clients on ways to encourage water consumption such as mashes, feed additives, or other useful tips.
  • Consider placing plywood on the windiest side of the barn for added insulation.
  • Make sure animals are in good body condition and vaccinated. Animals in good body condition can handle winter weather and extreme conditions better than smaller or weaker animals.
  • Have a disaster prep kit for cold weather emergencies.
  • Sharing your cold weather tips is a great way to strengthen your relationship with clients!

Winter weather tips for practice owners and managers

  • Know where your water main is.
  • Make sure to keep water reserves.
  • Protect pipes with insulation to avoid bursting!
  • Have a way to stay warm with lots of blankets, sweaters, or winter hats.
  • Fully charge any power banks and phones.
  • Bring in any favorite potted plants and be sure to keep away from any clinic cats or animals.
  • Cover bigger plants with trash bags.
  • Have a plan where to store things that must be temperature regulated in case of power outages.
  • Ensure staff is appropriately educated on cold weather protocol.
  • Make a plan to keep older arthritic pets comfortable.
  • Update your clients on your holiday hours and use the GVMA STAT tool to know what emergency facilities are available.
  • Revisit your insurance policy and update as needed.

Example winter weather emergency kit:

  • Leashes, dog bowls, carriers for cats and small pets
  • Prescription and OTC meds for both humans and pets
  • Non perishable food and water reserves
  • Solar, car, or hand-crank cell phone charger
  • Battery-operated radio
  • Flashlights with new batteries
  • Blankets and warm clothes
  • Carbon monoxide detector(s)
  • Battery-operated radio
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Games and books

Enforcing Proper Shelter: What to look for when you get a complaint for animals left out in the cold

We took this excerpt from The Animal Protection Society to help veterinarians understand what “proper shelter” means. To learn more, watch this video with Animal Law Expert Claudine Wilkins, along with Retired Fulton County Animal Control Officer, Paul Epps and Retired Atlanta Police Officer, Amy Soeldner as they discuss proper shelter for animals.


“Does the shelter, or lack thereof, give proper protection and shelter from the elements and specifically inclement weather?”

The weather changes every day, so the shelter provided should be sufficient in case the weather becomes severe (too cold, too windy, too hot, too rainy, hail, sleet, snow, etc.)

If a shelter/house does NOT provide proper temperature inside, good ventilation, dryness, daylight, and room enough for the animal to live without un-justifiable pain or suffering, then it is not proper shelter.

Read the full article here.