4545 Hodgson Road

Shoreview, MN


(651) 484-3331


Minnesota Veterinary Hospital Blog

Outdoor Winter Safety


Minnesota winters can be brutal on people, cars, and especially pets. If your dog or cat spends time outdoors regularly during between now and spring, it’s important to be aware of the dangers and take precautions to avoid them. This starts by protecting your pet from frostbite and hypothermia. If your dog must spend long hours outside, make sure he can retreat to an insulated dog house. Limit outdoor time on days when the temperature and wind chill are below zero and dress your pet in warm clothing at other times. If possible, keep your cat indoors all winter.

While prevention is best, make sure you are familiar with the signs of frostbite or hypothermia so you can seek immediate treatment for your pet at Minnesota Veterinary Hospital in Shoreview. These include:

  • Icicle formations on her body or limbs
  • Uncontrollable shivering
  • Tissues appear bright red or black
  • Weakness and lethargy

Other Outdoor Dangers to Avoid

Road salt is a combination of chemical additives and sodium chloride used to make sidewalks and driveways safer by melting ice. Unfortunately, road salt is painful for pets to step on and can be toxic for them to ingest. Be sure to supervise your pet around any road salt at your own home and cover your dog’s paws with booties when you go for a walk. It’s also important to trim the fur between your dog’s toes to prevent road salt from sticking to her paws.

The anti-freeze that you use to keep your car running in the winter can be toxic or even fatal to your pet. The clear appearance and sweet taste is attractive to dogs and cats, so it’s up to you to keep your pet away from anti-freeze spills or opened bottles in your garage. Typical signs of anti-freeze poisoning include drooling, vomiting, and confusion.

Cats and small dogs sometimes seek shelter in frigid conditions in the wheel well, exhaust, or under the hood of a car. If you don’t park in a garage overnight, be sure to check these places before starting your car in the morning. Even if your own pet is indoors, a stray animal could have found his way into your vehicle somehow. Pets that do survive being in these spots when the car is driven often suffer long-term effects from carbon monoxide poisoning.

According to the Pet Poison Helpline, rodenticide poisoning in house pets is extremely common at this time of year. Many homeowners place them outside in an effort to discourage mice, rats, and other rodents from seeking shelter in their homes. If you choose to use rodenticide outdoors, be certain to supervise your pet or place it in an area she can’t reach.

Please contact Minnesota Veterinary Hospital at 651-484-3331 with additional questions about winter pet safety.