When the weather turns cold, is your dog equipped to deal with the change? While some dogs can handle a colder climate, others need more help. Breeds such as Siberian Huskies or Alaskan Malamutes have been bred to handle cold temperatures, but breeds such as Chihuahuas or Whippets need to take extra precautions. Other dogs that need to be careful are puppies, older dogs, or dogs with conditions that make them more sensitive to cold intolerance, such as an underactive thyroid.
If these dogs are subjected to cold temperatures for too long, they can develop hypothermia or even frostbite. Dogs that get hypothermia may display lethargy, difficulty breathing, and extreme shivering. Frostbite is the injury to tissue due to cold temperatures and can be identified by blistering, discoloration of the skin, and swelling. Take your dog to a vet immediately if you suspect either of these conditions may be present.
Tips for outdoor activities:
- Dogs with short fur coats need to wear protective wear such as rain or snow-resistant jackets. Wearing boots or some protective footwear for dogs is also a good idea, as ice can become lodged in the pads of their feet and become painful.
- Always walk your dog on a leash. Many dogs are lost in the winter months and cannot survive for as long as they can in the summer. Make sure your dog has an up-to-date identification tag as well.
- If your dog normally gets their coat trimmed, let it grow out for the winter months for extra protection.
- Towel-dry your dog if they get wet. Make sure to get the pads of their feet because they can become dry and cracked. If they do become cracked, you can use petroleum jelly to help them soften and heal.
Tips for keeping healthy in the winter:
- Do not let your dog eat the snow. Antifreeze is frequently used on roads and sidewalks and it is very poisonous to dogs.
- Dogs can get just as dehydrated in the winter as they can in the summer. Always provide water for your dog if they are doing strenuous exercise.
- Rock salt is also commonly used for ice on sidewalks and it can irritate the pads of your dog’s feet. Rinse your dog’s feet after walks and towel-dry afterwards.
- If your dog is going to be outside for longer periods of time, they must have adequate shelter provided in addition to water. The water must not be able to freeze in the shelter.
Do not leave your dogs outside for long periods of time. Weather can change drastically during the day, so it is important for you to always be supervising your pet when they are outdoors. If they must be outside, they should be in a shelter that isn’t facing the wind and is raised at least three inches above the ground. In addition, the entrance to the shelter should be covered to keep the heat inside. By taking these precautions, you and your dog can enjoy the winter months.