Pet illnesses in winter – Discover the key factors in avoiding common cold-weather ailments

With winter settling in and temperatures plummeting even further each week, it is essential to protect your beloved pets from catching colds and getting sick. Like humans, pets also require protection from the extreme cold, as prolonged exposure to extremely low temperatures can put them at risk. Keep reading to learn about common pet illnesses in winter toĀ protect your pet from the cold weather.

Influenza and Pneumonia

  • Influenza is a broadly used term for a highly contagious upper respiratory disease affecting dogs and cats. It is different from pneumonia, which involves inflammation of the lungs.

Typically, older and younger pets face a higher risk of contracting flu and pneumonia. Nonetheless, any animal spending significant time outdoors in the cold can be vulnerable to these conditions.

Common symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Sneezing
  • Runny nose
  • Watery eyes
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dry or moist cough

If your pet displays any of these symptoms, seeking veterinary attention is crucial. Pets with mild signs often require cough suppressants, antiviral medications, or fluid therapy. Severe cases may necessitate extended hospitalization with fluid and oxygen support.

Canine Infectious Tracheobronchitis

  • Kennel cough, scientifically termed canineĀ infectious tracheobronchitis, is a viral infection affecting dogs and, sometimes, cats. While it can occur throughout the year, the winter poses a higher risk due to increased indoor contact among dogs. The primary indicator of kennel cough is a dry, goose-like, honking cough.

Additional symptoms include a runny nose, sneezing, eye discharge, loss of appetite, and fever. Mild cases typically resolve on their own, but more severe instances may require cough suppressants and antibiotics to alleviate your pet’s discomfort. Moreover, it is advisable to isolate an infected pet to prevent the spread of kennel cough.


  • Another cold weather concern is frostbite in pets. Prolonged exposure to cold temperatures, ice, and snow can result in frostbite. This occurs when the petā€™s body becomes too cold and draws blood from limbs and other peripheral structures to maintain a safe core temperature. As a consequence, ice crystals form in the tissues of the ears, tail, nose, and paws, leading to potential tissue damage.

Symptoms of frostbite vary depending on its severity.

  • First-degree frostbite is characterized by hardened skin on the nose, toes, ears, or tail, turning red and swollen when warmed.
  • Second-degree frostbite leads to skin blistering.
  • Third-degree results in darkening of the skin over several days, elevating the risk of gangrene.

If you suspect your pet has frostbite, bring them indoors immediately and apply warm water to the affected areas to dissolve ice crystals and restore normal blood flow. Once the pet is warmed, seek veterinary attention. Severe cases demand emergency veterinary care.


  • pet illnesses in winterIf your pet is exposed to low temperatures for extended periods, hypothermia can be a risk. Immediate treatment is crucial to prevent a potential fatality. Pets with heart diseases and diabetes face an increased risk of hypothermia, especially in colder months. Symptoms of hypothermia include shivering, weakness, lethargy, and depression.

In severe cases, it may manifest as a slow heart rate, stiff muscles, and an unresponsiveness to stimuli. Use a rectal thermometer to check their temperature to assess if your pet is experiencing hypothermia. If it falls below 95Ā°F, wrap the animal in blankets and seek veterinary attention. The normal temperature for a dog should not drop below 100.5Ā°F. Early intervention is key to ensuring your pet’s well-being and preventing hypothermia.

Prioritize your pet’s well-being this winter. Reach out to Autumn Trails and Veterinary Center if your pet has health concerns. We provideĀ comprehensive pet careĀ and strategies to promote optimal pet health. Contact us to get precise guidelines for your pet. We are located in Charlottesville, VA. Appointments are conveniently available. Call us at (434) 971-9800.