Pets need some extra attention in winter Dog Dog breed Buckrail - Jackson Hole, news
Pepper, a 6-year-old female chihuahua, needs extra warmth in the cold winter months. Pepper is available for adoption at the Animal Adoption Center.

JACKSON HOLE, WYO – The holiday season is a time when many seek out a shelter to adopt a new furry family member. It is also a good time to revisit some common do’s and don’ts for pet owners during the onset of colder, winter months. Winter presents unique threats to animals that many animals and humans alike aren’t even aware of. Here are some hazards to watch out for this winter:


Important to cars, lethal to animals. Animals find the liquid sweet to the taste, but even small amounts are extremely deadly to cats and dogs. Antifreeze has already claimed the life of one cat, Wasabi, and her humans want to make sure it doesn’t claim another. If you have some stored away, make sure it’s out of your animal’s reach. It also happens this time of year that puddles of fluid leak from cars, unbeknownst to the driver. If you keep your car in a garage, make your garage off limits to pets. Signs of antifreeze poisoning include puking, acting lethargic, disorientation and an inability to stand. If your animal exhibits any of these signs, take them to the vet right away.

Wasabi the cat. Many animals, cats especially, are attracted to the sweet taste of antifreeze. It’s highly toxic to pets. (Dave Van Ham)

Festive plants

Poinsettias and lilys are among the most popular holiday decorations, but think twice before buying or gifting one to a house with animals. Poinsettas are poisonous to dogs and cats, and can cause vomiting, drooling, strange erratic behavior and diarrhea.


Coexisting with non-domestic animal neighbors is a blessing and a challenge for humans and their pets. Moose, deer and elk are more likely to frequent yards in the winter time when food is scarce, it’s best for domestic critters to keep their distance.

Gary Kofinas knows this first-hand. He lost his beloved husky Gwinzee last month, and suspects a kick to the head was what killed him. Kofinas has always appreciated urban-wild interface, and worked to manage that relationship. He kept a careful eye on Gwinzee. But some things are hard to control.

“We live with trade-offs. Do we want to keep our dogs tied up or pent up all the time? This is where we live,” Kofinas said. “I’m content with the way Gwinzee lived and, while heartbroken, the way he died.”

Be hyper-vigilant about pets and wildlife this winter season.


Pets make adventures feel more complete. Skiing with a dog is a blast, but many dogs have been severely cut by skis. Ski-related injuries could cost owners upwards of $2,000 with long rehab periods—not fun for you or your pup. Keep a close eye on their distance. Also keep an eye on your dog’s energy level—busting trail through deep snow is exhausting.


Clean up Styrofoam packing, ribbons, tinsel after unwrapping packages and presents.  They are all very dangerous if ingested.

Gwinzee had a healthy respect (fear) for wildlife. When a moose came int the year, she wanted inside. (Gary Kofani

Other tips

For those traveling for the holidays, PAWS of Jackson Hole has some great resources on boarding, training, and walking your pets. PAWS also offered some great tips and reminders—some you may know already, some you may find an eye-opener.

  • If leaving your animals in the car for extended periods of time, a jacket and/or sleeping bag to have for them in the backseat are always good ideas.
  • If you find that your dog is lifting one paw at a time while on walks on ice, snow, frozen ground that means it’s too cold for them to be out for long periods of time.
  • Before starting your car, give a firm tap on the hood and check between the tires—sometimes kitties crawl into the engine or hide under the car for warmth.
  • Don’t use salts or chemicals to melt snow. They can hurt cats’ paws and some are toxic.
  • If you normally keep a cat’s litterbox in the garage or other colder area, think about moving it inside the house or somewhere warmer. Same with food and water bowls.

PetMD also has these seven tips for caring for your pet in winter.