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Cold Weather Care For Senior Pets
November 1, 2023

Winter isn’t far off now. While we (hopefully) still have some time before the worst of the cold weather hits us, it’s not too soon to start preparing. Pet owners will also need to do a few things to get ready for winter. If you have a senior, you’ll want to take extra care. A local Potomac, MD vet offers some advice on getting a senior pet ready for the cold weather in this article.


Older pets tend to be very tired: these guys can spend a rather ridiculous amount of time sleeping. They’re also very sensitive to temperature extremes. Make sure they have comfy beds. Fido and Fluffy may appreciate some extra warmth, such as a thermal blanket or heated bed.


Older cats sometimes have a hard time keeping up with their grooming needs. Fluffy can get quite stiff and sore, which can make it difficult to reach her entire body. Help her out by gently brushing or combing her. 

Another note about grooming: if you bathe your dog at home, give him a full beauty treatment before it gets cold. If you take your pooch to a salon, choose one with a station that is easy for senior pets to get in and out of. Even being picked up and held can be uncomfortable for older animals! As for Fido, if you had his fur clipped for summer, let it grow out. 


Your furry friend’s dietary needs will change over time. If your pet spends time outside, or even tends to get chilly easily, they may need bigger portions in winter. Supplements may also be beneficial. Just check with your vet, and find out what they recommend. Glucosamine may be a good option for an arthritic pup, while a kitty with vision problems may benefit more from a Lysine supplement.


As Fido and Fluffy age, they’ll become less interested in playing and will get more and more sleepy. However, they do need some exercise. Dogs may not want to spend much time outside. Senior cats should be kept in at all times, for safety reasons. Keeping your pet active through indoor play is a great way to help them stay fit and strong.


Senior pets can be a bit clumsy at times. Keep things like stairs, gates, and pools blocked off with gates or grates. Also, keep in mind that older pets may have a hard time getting around after dark. Turn a nightlight on for your furry friend. If Fido or Fluffy will be home alone after dark, put a nightlight on before you leave.

Our Advice on Cold Weather Care For Senior Pets in 2024

How should senior pets’ bedding be adjusted for cold weather?

For senior pets, it’s essential to provide extra warmth and comfort during cold weather. Ensure their bedding is placed in a draft-free area, and consider upgrading to a thicker, more insulated bed. Heated pet beds or thermal blankets can offer additional warmth but constantly monitor for safety. It’s also beneficial to have multiple cozy spots throughout your home, allowing your pet to choose their preferred resting place. This adaptation helps maintain their body temperature, ensuring they stay comfortable and protected against the chill.

What grooming needs should be considered for older pets in winter?

In winter, older pets may struggle with grooming due to stiffness or soreness. Assisting them with gentle brushing can help prevent matting and stimulate circulation. If bathing is necessary, opt for a warm, indoor setting and ensure your pet is thoroughly dried afterwards to avoid chills. For dogs with fur trimmed during summer, allow it to grow out for added insulation. Also, consider a visit to a pet salon that accommodates senior pets, ensuring a comfortable experience. Regular paw checks for ice accumulation or salt irritation are also crucial during colder months.

What types of exercise are suitable for aging pets when it’s cold?

For aging pets in colder climates, indoor exercise is key to maintaining their health without exposing them to harsh weather. Simple activities, such as playing with toys, gentle tug-of-war, or indoor fetch, can keep them engaged. For dogs, short, brisk walks during the warmer parts of the day are beneficial. Cats may enjoy interactive toys or laser pointers to stimulate movement. Creating obstacle courses or hiding treats around the house encourages exploration and activity. Always tailor activities to your pet’s health and mobility levels, and consult with your Germantown, MD, vet for personalized advice.

Which supplements could benefit senior pets during winter?

During the winter months, senior pets may benefit from supplements that support joint health and overall well-being. Glucosamine and chondroitin are commonly recommended to ease joint discomfort and improve mobility. Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish oil, can reduce inflammation and promote a healthy coat, which is particularly beneficial in dry, cold weather. Additionally, a vitamin E supplement can help protect skin health during harsh winter conditions. Always consult with a veterinarian in Gaithersburg, MD, before starting any new supplement to ensure it’s suitable for your pet’s specific health needs.

What home safety measures are crucial for protecting senior pets?

For safeguarding senior pets at home, prioritize eliminating fall risks and ensuring comfort. Install ramps or steps for easier access to furniture or vehicles, particularly for pets with mobility issues. Secure loose rugs and clear floors of clutter to prevent slips and falls. Consider using baby gates to restrict access to dangerous areas, such as stairs. Keep their living space warm and draft-free, and ensure they have a cozy, accessible bed away from cold drafts. Lastly, maintain well-lit environments to help pets with declining vision navigate safely.

Please do not hesitate to contact us with questions or concerns about your pet’s health or care. As your local Potomac, MD pet hospital, we are here to help!