Winter Tips from Penn Vet’s Ryan Hospital: Keep Pets Safe in Cold Weather

1. Avoid icy walkways, as animals can slip and pull muscles and ligaments. Slips and falls also can aggravate existing conditions like hip dysplasia.

2. When snow is deep, clear an area where your dog can relieve itself. Many dogs, particularly small ones, will not relieve themselves in deep snow.

3. After a walk, wash and dry your dog’s paws. Salt and other material spread on sidewalks cause irritation to the feet.

4. Do not leave dogs outside for extended periods of time. Water in bowls can freeze when left outside, preventing your pet’s access to water.

5. When shoveling snow, keep dogs away. Many dogs like to jump at snow as it flies from the shovel. They may run into the sharp edge of the shovel and get cut.

6. Antifreeze has a sweet odor and taste that seems to lure animals. A very small amount of the liquid can be lethal to cats and dogs. If an animal has had contact with contaminated surfaces, seek veterinary attention immediately.

7. Because cats like to hide under the hoods of cars during cold weather, thump the hood a few times before entering a vehicle and turning the key.

8. Short-coated and small-breed dogs should wear a sweater or a coat to keep warm outside.

In case of emergency, Penn Vet's Emergency Service is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Call (215) 746-8911 or visit