A dog under a blanket.

Florida is known for its sunny, warm weather that beckons humans and their four-legged friends into the great outdoors. You’ve likely seen photos of dog owners jogging the neighborhood (or the beach) with their canine workout partners. Cats often soak up the sun on a toasty-warm porch or deck. From springtime through fall, Florida is often one of the warmest places in the United States. However, at Animal Medical Center, we know a Florida winter can be an entirely different animal.

Snapshot of Florida’s Winter Weather

Florida’s 500-mile length means varied parts of the state have different winter weather. January can be downright cold in the northern and panhandle tiers, with frequent frost and occasional snow. The central region is warmer with highs in the 60s and lows in the 30s and 40s. Not surprisingly, tourists and snowbirds flock to south Florida’s 75-degree winter temperatures.

Potential Winter Hazards for Your Pets

Each winter, Florida attracts countless pet owners from the frozen north. Many new residents or snowbirds may think Florida stays sunny and warm all year ‘round. They aren’t aware that the state’s winters can be unpredictable, however. Wild temperature swings often occur when cold fronts blow through. A 30-degree drop sometimes occurs in the northern parts of the state.

When you leave your pet outside, these sudden weather changes can leave them shivering or whining with cold. Even though they have a fur coat, they are accustomed to staying in your nice warm house or RV. And if you’re in an area that gets some frost, your pet’s paws will be even colder. If you see your pet shivering or whining, or they are trying to find a warm burrow, get them inside right away.

Keeping Your Pets Safe During a Florida Winter

When you take your dog out for potty walks, wait until late morning or early afternoon, when the sun has warmed the air. A puppy (or very short-coated dog) will appreciate a warm sweater or fleece-lined coat.

Playing fetch in the warm sunshine provides two important benefits. First, your dog will burn off some energy retrieving his toys. Secondly, you’ll both soak up some warmth and vitamin D. When the air starts to get nippy, take your pooch inside. If you have a fenced yard, only leave him outside for a short period.

Your indoor/outdoor cat also needs special care during a Florida winter. Although he normally loves sunning himself on the porch, he might not want to reveal that he’s freezing on the cold wood or concrete. Rather than letting on that you know, take him inside to warm up.

Bedding and Grooming Pay Key Roles

There are some important ways to help your pets stay warm this winter. Remember to:

  • Keep your pet off the cold floor in the winter 
  • Use a raised bed with plenty of soft, warm covers. Ensure that his cozy burrow is safely away from drafts
  • Keep your dog properly groomed to provide him with maximum insulation from the cold. Plus, he’ll look his best for the ladies. 

For more tips on caring for your pets throughout the year or to schedule your next appointment, call us at (813) 654-6222.