Pet care in the coldest time of the year

You don’t have to look at the calendar to know that winter has come. Low temperatures and dry air affect humans and animals. But some basic care can make it easier to get through this time.

Winter is a time that requires special care for pets, as they are more susceptible to contracting and developing diseases. Food, hygiene and leisure, for example, are points that require greater observation by tutors as they are risk factors for pets’ health on the coldest days. “To prevent the pet from suffering any damage caused by the cold, it is essential to pay close attention to the signals that the animal can transmit, in addition to being twice as concerned with the routine it has”, explains Ricardo Cabral, Virbac veterinarian.


Keeping the pets vaccination card up to date is essential so that they do not contract diseases that can be fatal. “In the cold, some bacterial or viral diseases are easier to contract by drier air and by crowding with other animals. For this reason, it is essential that pets – even those that are not puppies anymore – have had the proper vaccinations ”, explains Cabral.

Cats should have the triple vaccine up to date and dogs with the V8 vaccine. If you are a puppy dog, elderly or living with many other dogs,


Bathing should be done less frequently, only when necessary. Grooming should also be avoided as hair helps protect against cold. “If the tutor wants to bathe the animal anyway, we advise that the baths carried out at home should be with warm water and – mainly – dry very well with the dryer” warns Cabral. Another point of attention is that, like humans, in the cold the pet’s skin tends to get drier, aggravating the risks of skin diseases such as dermatitis and allergies. “To keep the animal’s skin hydrated, we recommend the use of therapeutic shampoos and conditioners, or specific products for hydration”, he recommends.


In winter, animals spend more calories to keep their bodies warm and therefore they need a greater supply of food. So that there is no problem of overeating, it is necessary to pay attention to consumption and, if necessary, dose the portion of the food.

According to Cabral, the increase in appetite is normal in this colder period. “The tutor must be careful just not to offer excessive snacks. Just because the pet is more ‘pidão’, it is not necessary to modify the feeding ”, points out Cabral.


“Many people think that in winter it is necessary to put an exaggerated amount of warm clothes, but this decision can be harmful to the animal’s health”, explains the veterinarian. For short-haired or elderly animals, a natural and comfortable clothing can be a good option. For long-haired animals or those with skin problems, clothing can be synonymous with discomfort. On these occasions, a blanket or duvet in the sleeping area is enough to keep warm. “A tip to know if the dog is cold is to check if the tip of the ear and the paws are cold. If they are, the rest of the body is likely to be too. ”


On cold days, it is advisable to go for walks in the morning or at noon, which are the times when the sun comes out, making the cold not affect the walk as much. On rainy days, the ideal is to practice some activity indoors or in closed places, such as shopping malls. But cold weather is no excuse for a sedentary lifestyle! Exercise helps to ward off the cold as well.


The symptoms of some chronic osteoarticular diseases – such as joint pain in animals with osteoarthritis, for example – can be more prevalent on colder days. “In these cases, pets tend to show that they are in pain by being quieter, limping when they walk or refusing to eat. For this reason, it is important to be attentive to their behavior and, if necessary, seek the veterinarian to prescribe the analgesic medication correctly ”, explains Cabral.


Like any human being, animals also need to be protected from wind or rain during the coldest time of the year. “The place must be ventilated, but without ventilation. Heaters must also be avoided, as air can dry out, ”says Cabral.

According to Rosângela Ribeiro, manager of veterinary programs for the World Animal Protection, if your pet lives outside, in the yard, try to shelter it in a small house of appropriate size and warm it with clothes and blankets. Especially at night. The house should be placed in a place free of rain and drafts.

If the animal does not have a closed house, it should at least offer a place lined with newspaper or cardboard, with blankets and blankets that help to isolate it from the cold floor. The animal should never be outdoors or in contact with rain or wind. Like a child or an elderly person, dogs and cats can get sick in these conditions.



Warm clothing campaigns are important for both humans and destitute animals. Look for one in your area. Separate the clothes that no longer fit your pet, old beds and houses. Blankets are also welcome. If you don’t find a fundraising campaign, go to shelters and temporary homes.