Most of us have been experiencing a cold front in some form or another by this time, and it can be particularly bad in certain areas. Wherever you are, your inside dogs probably aren’t very acclimated to the falling temperatures outside. It might seem that dogs are more resistant to cold with all of that fur, and some breeds may be more than others, but all dogs are generally as susceptible to cold weather ailments as we are. Frostbite and hypothermia are serious conditions we need to avoid! How can we keep our pups protected? Read below to find out!
- Stay Inside! I know, probably not that hard for you. Most of us don’t particularly feel like going on routine walks in freezing temperatures. But this goes for your pets too. While exercise is good and essential, it’s important to remember that our arthritic pets may experience a lot of discomfort outside in the cold. Keep exercise to the warmest parts of the days, and if you think it’s too cold to go out, it’s not going to hurt to stay inside a few days. Most importantly, don’t leave your pets outside! They might have dog houses, but without added insulation and heat, they’re not much shelter. Leaving pets out at night or during the day while you’re gone can expose them to the harmful effects of the cold.
- Time to dress up! Most of us love to dress our pets up. Some of us even keep it a secret. But winter is the perfect time to pull out those cute sweaters and booties! All dogs can benefit from extra layers in the cold, but smaller, shorter coated dogs such as Chihuahuas and Italian Greyhounds are especially at risk. Nowadays there are endless options for outfits, and some companies make it their goal to provide proper clothing items for dogs that are going to be out in the bitter cold. So be creative, be smart and get your fashion on!
- Avoid eating snow. You probably don’t want to eat it, but your dogs may. Snow can be riddled with hidden chemicals such as anti-freeze and de-icers that are extremely toxic to your pet. These are often hard to spot, and the consequences devastating. Remember too that with severe weather conditions, you might not be able to rush your pup to the veterinarian once you notice any symptoms. So your best bet is to keep Fluffy from eating anything off the ground. This can be applied any time of the year, but winter seems to have exaggerated risks when it comes to ground-grazing.
- Check paws and bellies – for most of the reasons listed above. If you pet doesn’t actively ingest any snow or chemicals, they might pick them up on their leisurely walk around the neighborhood. This becomes dangerous when you come inside and your pet grooms himself and consumes the dangerous chemicals. Make sure to wipe down paws and undersides that may have picked up any hidden dangers after you come home from your outings.
- Don’t overfeed! I know, fat means insulation. But just because it’s cold outside doesn’t necessarily mean your pet needs to gain weight to keep warm. While a little weight gain may be beneficial, too much has too many health risks. Veterinarians agree that obesity and weight gain over winter has dangers that far outweigh those of being a little underweight during the colder months – especially if you follow the tips listed above.
So there you have it. Winter is a fun time for many, and it can be for your pets as well. It certainly has it dangers, but it can be enjoyed safely by every family, two- and four-legged alike!
About the Author
Katie is a professional dog trainer located in Southern California, with a background of experience as a veterinary assistant as well. She has trained and competed with multiple breeds in AKC Obedience and Rally, agility, herding, Schutzhund/IPO, French Ring and conformation. She has been involved in dogs since she was a child, and specializes in protection dogs, working dogs, and aggression issues. You can visit her website, Katie’s Dog Training, to find out more information about her training and accomplishments. When she’s not helping others and writing, she’s out on the field with her Belgian Malinois and Pembroke Welsh Corgi.
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