As summer is behind us and we are passing through fall, it’s a good idea to get a refresher on tips for keeping your pup safe and comfortable during colder, winter months.
While dogs have a higher average body temperature than us and have nice warm, thick coats, cold weather safety is still incredibly important! They can experience frostbite and hypothermia just like people can. Also like people, it’s not safe for most dogs to spend extended period of time outdoors in cold weather. While dogs’ tolerance to cold may vary depending on their age, size, breed and overall health, here are some important things to consider to keep your dogs happy and healthy:
Consider your Dog’s Breed, Coat, Size and Age
It’s no surprise that dogs like Alaskan or Siberian Huskies will enjoy the cold and handle it better than Basenjis or Rhodesian Ridgebacks; your pup’s breed’s history and origins do affect their tolerance to cold weather. That being said, older dogs, young puppies or dogs with certain health conditions may not do well in the cold, regardless of their breed.
Short-haired dogs, dogs with little body fat or very small dogs may not do as well as dogs with thick coats or breed origins in colder locations. Some of those dogs less suited for the cold may benefit from a warm sweater or coat to stay warm – remember, just like people, wet clothing will only make them colder so be sure to keep their clothing nice and dry.
Regular grooming is important all year round, but in the winter a lot of dogs with thicker coats or undercoats can get matted and these mats do not dry as easily which can make your dog colder.
Your Dog’s Overall Health
If your pet has had chronic health issues, refer to your veterinarian on how to make your dog comfortable and safe in the cold. Some conditions make it harder for animals to regulate their body temperature or are exacerbated by extreme cold.
That being said, even healthy dogs can be negatively affected by very cold weather. If you notice your dog breathing slowly, acting lethargic, whining, trembling… they are too cold and should be brought back indoors right away! Many animals tend to be stoic in times of pain or discomfort, and dogs are no exception. Even what seems like your dog is just a bit uncomfortable could actually be more serious. If you suspect that your dog may have hypothermia or frostbite, consult a vet immediately.
Road Salt, Antifreeze and De-Icing, Oh My!
While that doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, those three things are important to protect your dog from! Antifreeze can taste or smell sweet to animals, but don’t let them anywhere near it! Licking or drinking antifreeze could be harmful and even fatal; contact your vet immediately if you suspect your pup has gotten into antifreeze.
Road salt and other de-icing materials can cause discomfort and irritation to your dog’s paws. While also being mindful of ice balls forming on the paws, these ice melting materials are something to pay attention to as well. Be sure to rinse and dry your dog’s feet when you get home from your excursions. Doggy boots are also an option, but not all dogs will tolerate wearing them.
Provide Food, Water and Shelter
This is essential any time of the year – be sure your animals have access to clean water for your dogs to stay hydrated, food to increase calorie intake and maintain body temperatures and a cozy, safe place to rest.
We hope these tips were helpful to you and we wish you and your animals a lovely (and hopefully not too cold!) winter season!