Talk about the cold and animals with U of M

With the onset of winter and colder temperatures, Dr. Kristi Flynn, assistant professor and veterinarian at the College of Veterinary Medicine, shares tips on how to protect our pets.

Q: What cold temperatures are dangerous for pets?
Dr Flynn: It depends on each dog. It goes without saying that a breed like a Siberian Husky will do very well in very cold temperatures, where a Chihuahua may not even be able to tolerate extreme cold for more than a few minutes. Dogs should not be left outdoors unattended in sub-freezing temperatures and higher temperatures than pets that are smaller, older, or have certain medical conditions.

Q: What are some of the health risks for pets exposed to the cold?
Dr Flynn: Dogs and cats, like humans, can suffer from frostbite, hypothermia, and even death when exposed to the cold.

Q: What are the signs and symptoms of cold exposure and when should a pet owner see a veterinarian?
Dr Flynn: If there is a problem, it is best to call your vet. Signs would include red and painful paws or ear tips, or even lethargy, similar to that of a person with hypothermia.

Q: What are the treatment options for pets exposed to the cold?
Dr Flynn: If you have forgotten your pet outside for an extended period in cold weather or even for a short time in extremely cold weather, you should see a veterinarian if you see the above signs. Otherwise, it’s best to let them warm up slowly under a blanket, next to you, or on a heating pad provided they can get up and walk away if they find it too hot.

Q: Is there anything else pet owners need to know to prepare for the cold?
Dr Flynn: If it works for your family and living situation, consider an indoor disposal area such as pads or a piece of grass (purchased in the fall) in the garage for cold-intolerant dogs to use during the colder months.

Dr. Kristi Flynn is Assistant Professor and Veterinarian in the Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences at the College of Veterinary Sciences, University of Minnesota. She is passionate about preventive care; behavior, including the implementation of low-stress manipulation techniques in the clinic; veterinary dentistry; and nutritional management, in particular obesity prevention.

About the College of Veterinary Medicine
The University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine affects the lives of animals and people every day through education, research, service, and awareness programs. Founded in 1947, the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Minnesota is Minnesota’s only veterinary college. Fully accredited, the college has graduated over 4,000 veterinarians and hundreds of scientists. The college is also home to the Veterinary Medical Center, Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, Leatherdale Equine Center, and Raptor Center. To learn more, visit

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“Talking … with U of M” is a resource through which professors at the University of Minnesota answer questions on current affairs and other topics of general interest. Please feel free to repost this content. If you would like to schedule an interview with the faculty member or would like the University of Minnesota to explore topics for a future “Talking … with the University of Massachusetts”, please contact University Public Relations. to


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