A complete guide to common winter sicknesses in pets and how they can be prevented

Winters bring a host of illnesses. The drop in temperature and the fluctuating weather conditions cause multiple health issues. Winters are not tough on humans only, but also on pet animals. Their bodies need time to adjust to the extreme weather conditions. In this article, we will talk about 3 illnesses that pets commonly contract during winters.


Hypothermia is caused due to prolonged exposure to cold temperatures. During this condition, the body loses heat faster than it can produce. Persistent exposure to cold temperatures can make your pet severely ill and can even result in death. Domestic pets that suffer from hypothermia exhibit the following symptoms:

  • Body temperature dropping below 95 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Shivering
  • Lethargy
  • Listlessness

The best way to prevent your pet from hypothermia is to keep him indoors and limit their outdoor exposure. For bathroom breaks and an occasional walk down the street, cover your pet animal with protective gear such as a specially made sweater, jacket, fleece, and booties for your pet’s paws.

  • Another thing to be mindful of is wet fur. Soggy fur can freeze which reduces the animal’s body temperature drastically causing rapid progression to hypothermia. If you suspect your pet is in a state of hypothermia, take him to a vet immediately. Some instant home remedies to improve the condition include drying the pet’s body and covering it with warm blankets to raise the body’s temperature.

Antifreeze Poisoning

  • Antifreeze poisoning is common in pets during winters. Antifreeze is a chemical substance that prevents water from freezing. Along with vehicles, it is used on garage floors, sidewalks, and streets during winters.

Antifreeze contains the chemical ethylene glycol which is poisonous in nature. However, due to its sweet taste, pets are tempted to lick it off the floor. This can cause significant damage and urgent medical care needs to be administered. Signs of antifreeze poisoning in pets are:

  • Wobbly walking
  • Lack of mental clarity
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Coma (in extreme cases)

Antifreeze poisoning cannot be treated at home so it is recommended to take him to a pet immediately. To prevent the occurrence of such an incident, the following precautions are recommended:

  • Keep the antifreeze and other chemicals out of your pet’s reach, preferably in a locked cabinet.
  • If you have sprayed your garage and sidewalk with antifreeze, keep your dog indoors to prevent them from coming in contact with the chemical.
  • To avoid contact with antifreeze, cover your pet’s paws with booties if you take them out for a walk. Wipe your pet’s paws after coming back home.

Catching A Cold

Cold is the most common winter illness. The drop in temperatures makes animals more sensitive to catching a cold and getting sniffles. In most cases, cold is not a serious condition, however, if they develop a case of sniffles, do the following:

  • common winter sicknesses in petsUse a humidifier in the room where your pet rests. This will help clear out congestion and the cough.
  • Keep your pet warm and covered and let the body recover on its own.
  • Feed them warm food such as chicken or beef broth and warm milk.

Common symptoms of a cold include:

  • Cough
  • Runny nose
  • Lethargy

Usually, the body recovers in 4-7 days. However, if symptoms persist, consult a vet.

  • If your pet suffers from any of these illnesses, the most appropriate course is to take it to a qualified vet. Autumn Trails Veterinary Center provides healthcare services for all domestic pets. Call us at 434-971-9800. We are located in Charlottesville, VA.