Common Winter Pet Illnesses | PetFirst
Pet Care & Health

Common Winter Pet Illnesses

by PetFirst Pet Insurance
2 years ago

We all know that winter is synonymous with flu season and that we must take care to wash our hands and consume plenty of vitamin C to avoid falling ill. But did you know that your pets are also prone to certain illness in the winter? In an effort to ensure you and your pets have a safe and fun-filled holiday season, we’re sharing some of the common illnesses your pets could contract this season along with our best tips to prevent them!

Kennel Cough

This common pet illness earned its name because it is most likely to affect pets who are confined to small spaces which offer minimal ventilation (say, a kennel).

Kennel cough is a viral infection that affects cats and dogs in the form of a persistent cough. While the virus can strike at any time of year, pets are much more susceptible to it during cold weather.

While a cough is the most telling kennel cough symptom, your pet may also experience sneezing and a runny nose. Fortunately, the virus usually clears up on its own without any medical treatment. In severe cases, it can be treated with antibiotics and cough suppressants.

There are a few vaccines available to help prevent kennel cough in cats and dogs but unfortunately, none of them are 100% effective. The virus can be caused by multiple different pathogens, so it’s hard to prevent it entirely. Even so, if your pup attends doggy daycare or you’re planning to board your pet during the holiday season, it’s definitely worth speaking to your vet about the options for kennel cough prevention.  


If you happen to live somewhere that experiences very low temperatures in the winter you should definitely be on the lookout for frostbite in your pet. While we humans have the ability to curl up in a cozy blanket and sip hot cocoa until spring rolls around, our furry pals don’t always have the same luxury. After all, they need to venture outside each day to do their “business”!

Just like in humans, frostbite occurs after the skin experiences prolonged exposure to the cold. Be sure to check your pet’s extremities— his tail, ears, and toes — for signs of frostbite after any trip outdoors.

One symptom of frostbite is skin that looks exceptionally pale or even blue-ish. It will feel cold to the touch and can become brittle. You may also notice that ice crystals have formed around the affected area.

To alleviate frostbite symptoms in dogs and cats you need to help warm up your pet’s skin. This should be done slowly and gently. Use warm towels or blankets to wrap around the frostbitten area and bring your pet’s skin back to a healthy temperature.

In order to prevent frostbite on your dog or cat, be sure to limit his exposure to extreme cold. If he does spend time outside consider buying booties to protect his paws in the winter, and a warm sweater or jacket to keep his body cozy while he is outdoors.


Hypothermia can occur when your pet is exposed to low temperatures for long periods of time and can be life-threatening if it isn’t treated promptly.

If you notice your pet shivering excessively or that his skin is more pale than usual and cold to the touch, he could be experiencing hypothermia.

It’s easy to assume that if your dog or cat has a thick furry coat, he will be comfortable and warm in any temperature. Unfortunately that’s not the case. Even the furriest cats and dogs can get hypothermia! Pets that are very young or very old are most susceptible to hypothermia, along with pets that have a low amount of body fat. If your pet falls into any of those categories consider purchasing some extra winter protection to keep them warm.

In order to prevent hypothermia in your pet, take care to keep them warm during winter walks. Invest in a warm sweater and booties for your pup, especially if he is a short hair breed that is sensitive to cold.

Making sure that your pet has an insulated place to sleep is another good way to prevent hypothermia in dogs and cats. Place cardboard under his bed or wrap him in a warm blanket or towel on particularly cold days and nights. This will help ensure his body temperature stays within a healthy range!

Keeping your pets nice and warm this winter will definitely help prevent them from catching these common illnesses. Just consider it a good excuse for some extra snuggle time! And remember, a pet insurance policy will protect you from exorbitant health care expenses in the event that one of your furry pals does happen to fall ill. You can get a quote here in just a matter of minutes!

Guest Blogger: Janine DeVault 

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