Cold weather pet care

Gladwin County

Michigan winter weather is approaching fast and the Gladwin County Animal Shelter would like to share some tips to help keep pets safe and well cared for.

If your dogs and cats live outdoors, be sure to bring them indoors during sub-zero temperatures if possible. Provide outdoor pets with a dry, draft free shelter that is large enough for them to sit and/or lie down in comfort, but not so large that they lose their body heat. The floor should be a few inches off the ground and covered with cedar shavings or straw. Turn the shelter so it faces away from the wind.

Cover the doorway with heavy plastic or waterproof burlap. Water and food dishes should not be metal, use plastic as their tongue can get stuck on metal dishes. Feed should be slightly increased in extreme cold weather.

Barn cats should also be fed and watered in plastic dishes, increasing food amounts in cold weather. Large animals should have a place of protection from wind and cold temperatures with extra food for body warmth. Keep fresh water readily available. Tank heaters are safe and help keep your large animals drinking regularly.

If your horses are in a pasture 24/7 without, shelter and are not stalled at night, blankets provide them with the ability to conserve body heat in very cold weather. Blankets should be taken off on average winter temperature days. 

Pigs, sheep, goats usually lay down at night to sleep, they need clean, warm bedding and a constant source of fresh water. All outdoor farm animals should have access to relief from extreme cold and extreme heat. The cold winters also means that the animals need regular daily feedings and increased amounts in winter months. All outdoor farm animals need your regular attention to endure the Michigan winters. They need you to thrive and survive.

If you should have any questions, please feel free to call the animal shelter at 989-426-4579. If they do not have the answers, they will find the information you need.

The Gladwin County Animal Shelter began operation in 1976, and is dedicated to serving the needs of the animals and citizens of Gladwin County. In 2020, the shelter cared for over 630 animals (despite challenges due to COVID-19), and continues to make every effort possible to ensure that all healthy, adoptable animals have safe and loving homes and the community practices responsible animal guardianship. Follow the Shelter on Facebook at

The shelter is always accepting donations, which can be dropped off at, or mailed to, 401 W. Cedar Ave., Gladwin, MI 48624. Volunteers can call 989-426-4579 or email to find out ways they can assist at the shelter.

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