Tips from Detroit Dog Rescue on Keeping Your Dog Safe through Freezing Cold


The following story first appeared on and is being reposted here with the author’s permission

Detroit, Michigan – The extended weather forecast for metro Detroit is dropping to near sub-zero temperatures with nearly a foot of dogs in coldsnow on the way – the Dog Days of Winter are here. In readiness for the cold temperatures, Detroit Dog Rescue wants to remind Detroit dog owners of their responsibilities to ensure their pets are safe and comfortable during long periods of extreme cold weather.

Michigan is known as the “Winter Wonderland” state full of great activities for the outdoor enthusiast. However, during extreme low temperatures the winter wonderland experience can become dangerous for humans and more so for our four-legged family members – dogs. Protecting your dog from exposure to extreme cold weather is no different from the preparation we all do before going outdoors.

“Extreme cold temperatures can be very dangerous for dogs outside,” said David Rudolph, spokesperson for Detroit Dog Rescue.

“At Detroit Dog Rescue as part of our Dog Days of Winter community outreach program, we like to get out and educate dog owners on their responsibilities to care for their pets during the winter that includes hazards and cold weather safety tips,” said Rudolph.

Doggie Fitness & Relief – Dogs by nature love the outdoors. They love to play, rip, run, sniff and of course take potty breaks. However, during cold weather months pet owners need to pay more attention to the time spent outside. Pet owners should limit their dogs’ time outside to reduce exposure. When outdoors, dress your dog with an insulated vest, sweater and doggie boots to protect their paws and core.

Nutrition & Adequate Hydration – Dogs that spend most of their time outdoors may need more calories to maintain their energy level in cold weather. Always check with your vet regarding all changes to your dog’s diet. It’s also important to make sure your dog has
adequate water outside. Keep it fresh and in a plastic bowl (avoid metal) to prevent it from freezing – contrary to popular belief dogs cannot break ice in a water bowl and you do not want them licking ice or eating snow as a way to hydrate. Snow and ice in an urban setting can be filled with toxins from salt and other antifreeze products that are harmful to your dog’s digestive system.

If Lost Can Find – During the winter months Detroit Dog Rescue responds to a lot of lost, homeless and stray dog calls. A year ago a family entering the United States via the Detroit –Windsor Canada crossing at the Ambassador Bridge lost their dog when it jumped out and ran away during a border patrol inspection. Always keep a collar on your dog and consider having your pet identified with a microchip. If your dog gets loose, lost or disoriented in cold weather with an ID collar and microchip you will have a fighting chance if your dog is found and can be returned home.

In The Dog House – If your dog must spend significant time outdoors, Detroit Dog Rescue encourages pet owners to provide adequate sheltering and bedding. Keeping your dog tied up to the porch, stairs, fence or a tree is not cool or humane. A good way to keep your dog secure and comfortable is in a doghouse – raised off the ground with a roof to shed away the elements. In the doghouse make sure you keep enough straw (avoid hay) to provide a nice bedding for your dog. Straw keeps mold and bacteria down and is a great insulator in the house.

Pet Safety & Winter Hazard – In extreme cold weather believe-it-or-not your dog can get frostbite on their paw-pads. Prolonged contact with frozen ground surfaces such as concrete and asphalt can be dangerous for dogs. Be aware of harmful substances such as road salt and other ice melting antifreeze products that can get lodged in between paws causing an irritation or chemical burn. Always wipe down your dog’s paws after spending time outside – this will prevent them from digesting any toxic materials when they decide to lick and clean themselves.

Don’t Leave Dog in Car – You would think this warning falls into having common sense? Don’t leave your dog in the car unattended for anytime during extreme weather periods – cold or hot. Just because most dogs have fur does not mean they can stand near arctic or below temperatures. Sure some dog breeds may fair better in colder temperatures, but play it smart and safe – take Lassie with you or leave her at home!

Groom Regularly – Your pet needs a well-groomed coat to keep him 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.

House Warming Party – Carefully keep pets warm inside and away from drafts while inside. I live in an older home in Detroit with hardwood floors. It can get a bit drafty, so for my dog Pebbles a three-year old Bichon Frise who sleeps in a crate at night, I drape a blanket over her cage. Be aware 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 your pet alone with an unattended fire.

Puppy Power – Puppies do not tolerate the cold as well as adult dogs and may be difficult to housebreak during the winter. If necessary, paper-train your puppy inside if she appears to be sensitive to the weather.

Best Tip of All – Keep your dogs with you at all times during the winter months. The best prescription for the Dog Days of Winter is to keep your dog inside with you and your family. The happiest dogs are those who are taken out frequently for walks and exercise but kept inside the rest of the time with you. Be happy, be kind, be humane.

Just a few simple but helpful tips from Detroit Dog Rescue to keep you and your dog happy during the dog days of winter.

Detroit Dog Rescue is a registered 501(c)3 non-profit organization whose mission is to humanely rescue homeless dogs living in Detroit and establishment of the areas first no-kill rescue center for dogs without a home.

For more information on Detroit Dog Rescue or to make a donation visit online at:, Facebook@DetroitDogRescue or Twitter@313Dogs.

WDIV Local News 4 – Pet Pantry Project 2013 –
The Detroit News – Detroit Dog Rescue Giving Back –

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About the Author

Denise Carey-Costa has been a lifelong advocate for animals. She has written numerous children’s books promoting kindness and compassion for all creatures and raising awareness for the plight of unwanted animals. Denise tours with her books to schools and libraries teaching the importance of spaying and neutering your pets, adopting a shelter pet and how to report animal cruelty. Visit and all other book retailers to see books written by Denise Carey-Costa.