Tips for keeping pets safe and warm outside during chilly winters


Four-year-old Luka (A501590) is an energetic boy looking for his next home! This beautiful shepherd mix loves treats and enjoys spending time in our training yard. Luka would do best as the only pet in a calm home. If you’re looking for your one-and-only, Luka might be a great fit for you! Now through Jan 31, Luka’s adoption is free as part of our Live Large adoption promotion.

One thing I love about Southern California is the winter. The mild sunny days are perfect for outdoor adventures, and what better way to appreciate the outdoors than with our pets?

My dog Sueshi enjoys an evening stroll along the Arroyo not far from our home. As an added bonus, I get to watch the San Gabriel Mountains’ ever changing hues while the sun sets.

For a longer walk on the weekend, we might start at Brookside Park and do the Rose Bowl Loop. Or, if we are looking for a hike, we can head to the trails in Eaton Canyon, Hahamongna Watershed Park or the Angeles National Forest.

I like the crisp, cool winter evenings in California as much as I like the mild, sunny days. When the nights are chilly, there’s nothing better than snuggling up by the fire with Sueshi.

While the indoors is generally the safest and warmest place for pets, and most of the dogs I’ve known, even the really big ones, adore a cozy couch, some of the larger dogs coming into our shelter have been accustomed to living outdoors and prefer the outdoor life. These dogs sometimes do not adjust well to living primarily indoors, but they are no less deserving of finding a new home.

Do you have a secured, fenced yard? You might be the perfect family for one of these large, outdoor-loving, homeless canines.

If you are thinking of adopting a new best friend, now is the time! Through Jan 31, Pasadena Humane and other local shelters are waiving or reducing the adoption fee for all dogs 40-pounds and over as part of the “Live Large” promotion.

One of the benefits of adopting in the L.A. area is that our pets generally don’t face as many winter dangers as animals living in frigid and snowy climates. But there are still important tips for keeping our SoCal pets safe in winter:

  • We recommend your pet always has access to the indoors, but if your pet simply can’t stand the thought of staying indoors and spends most of their time outside, it’s important they have access to an outdoor shelter or a garage.
  • Pet houses should be raised a few inches above the ground for protection against our occasional downpours. Be sure your pet has enough room to lie down comfortably. Include cozy bedding, and for temperatures below 60 degrees, an outdoor heated bed is preferred.
  • Smaller dogs, like my Sueshi, definitely do best living indoors. They are more susceptible to cold, as well as predators like coyotes. Even in our mild winters, some doggies like the extra warmth of a sweater indoors or something a little heavier, like a fleece, for walks. I’m glad we brought some sweaters with us when we moved from Virginia. Who doesn’t love a cute dog sweater? The sweater my mother-in-law knitted for Sueshi is a particular favorite.
  • For fresh-air-loving cats, a “catio” might be just the thing. These outdoor cat patios can be as simple or elaborate as you like. Your cat will appreciate if you include opportunities for climbing. Pass-through doors let cats move easily between the indoors and outdoors at their leisure.
  • We recommend keeping pet cats enclosed if they are outside to protect against cars, predators, getting lost and other outdoor dangers. But, if you’re not ready for a catio, you can make your cat more comfortable by purchasing a pre-fab heated outdoor kitty house for under $100. Or, you can make an insulated cat shelter quickly and easily out of a plastic storage container—a quick google search will provide instructional videos.
  • And remember, whether your pet enjoys spending time indoors or out, it’s always important that they be up to date on their vaccines, flea prevention and have current ID with your contact information. If your pet gets lost, an ID tag and a microchip are their quickest ticket home.

Dia DuVernet is president and CEO of Pasadena Humane.