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Does your dog love this chilly winter weather, or is he happiest snuggled up in his dog bed with a fluffy blanket? Whichever he prefers, you need to be prepared for when you both do venture outside into the frosty and snowy elements. Just because your pet has a thick coat of fur doesn’t mean that he won’t feel the effects of this cold weather. Dogs can feel these low temperatures so take some extra precautions to ensure that your dog doesn’t suffer from these extreme climate conditions.
Dangers in the cold – Frostbite
Even though he has a fur coat, your dog can still suffer from frostbite. The extremities like the tail, paws and ear tips are most susceptible and can occur when the wind chill and temperature drop to below zero degrees. Symptoms of frostbite may not be immediately visible but may develop over several days after the exposure. Look out for any of the following symptoms, and of course, seek immediate veterinary help and advice.
- A colour change of the skin with a blue or grey tinge
- The skin is cold or feels brittle
- Swelling or pain
- Ulcers or blisters on the affected skin
- Dead or blackened skin
Paw care is a necessity
Check for snow between the paws.
As part of your winter dog care routine, it is important to check between the toes after walking in the snow is important. This is more important if you have a dog with long hair as the snow can get stuck between the toes. When this happens, it can turn to ice and be painful.
During winter, consider trimming the hair between their toes
Rock salt between the toes
At this time of the year, the gritter vans are out in full force to prevent icy roads and footpaths. The rock salt used can be an irritant to your dog’s feet, as can antifreeze if any has been spilt onto the roads where you walk. When you return home, wash and wipe his paws and towel dry.
If they show signs of extreme discomfort when walking outside on salted or frozen pavements, consider buying dog boots to protect their feet and pads. Dog Paws need protecting in the snow
Keep your dog safe and well away from antifreeze.
Antifreeze is highly poisonous to dogs and often fatal. If you suspect your dog has drunk any antifreeze from a puddle or similar source and starts to stagger, vomit or have seizures, then contact your vet asap
It takes a very small amount of anti-freeze to have a devastating effect on dogs.
It is also important to remember that a lot of water features such as public fountains often contain antifreeze. This is to prevent them from freezing over, so please make sure that your dog does not drink from them
If possible, try and use antifreeze that contains propylene glycol, which is much safer for pets but still toxic. Keep containers. This ingredient is safer for pets. The important thing with any household chemical is to make sure that they are kept t closed tight. If you do have any accidents or spills, then it is important to clean them up straight away
Beware thin ice and snow.
Whilst dogs get excited playing in the snow. It is important to remember that frozen ponds and lakes can be dangerous as thin ice can easily break. This could result in your dog falling into the frozen water and can lead to hypothermia. Allowing your dog to eat the snow whilst it may seem amusing is not a good thing. Eating snow can lead to a stomach upset. If they continue to eat lots of snow, then it might be worth speaking to your vet
Dogs get lost in the snow
On to more serious aspects of safety now. When you take your dog for a walk in the winter, and it happens to be snowing heavily, either don’t bother going out or think carefully about how you handle your dog in this extreme weather. Let your dog runoff in a snow blizzard, for example, and this includes even a mild one, which can mean that you will lose them, or the dog will lose their way.
Dogs often get disorientated in the snow;
this can lead to them running out onto a road or finding themselves lost. You are well-advised to ensure that your dog has good tags, and if you can chip them, all the better. Dogs are easy to lose in the snow, and this is something worth thinking about if you like taking a walk often in the winter. So those are a few tips for looking after your dog in the wintertime. It’s a lovely and exciting time of year, but it can also be challenging too. Take care of your dog, and ensure that you do your very best to make sure they are safe and warm and dry in this challenging season.
Shorter walks and more indoor activities
Dogs that have short hair, an elderly dog or maybe one that just doesn’t like the cold, then as part of your winter dog care, consider shorter walks.Playing mental and physical games is just as good as going for a long walk. You may also want t read our article on how to exercise your dog in winter.
If it’s feeling cold for you, it is for your pet too
When the temperatures plummet, and it’s freezing cold outside, please let your dogs stay inside the home. Dogs that are expected to remain outside run the risk of both hypothermia and frostbite. If your pets remain at home while you are out at work, try to keep your room temperature at around a constant 18 degrees C.
The best way to make sure your dog is happy when out walking in the cold and bitter weather is to try and keep them warm and, more importantly dry as much as possible
Just like humans in the cold, dogs can suffer frostbite on the paws or hypothermia, so keeping warm is key
It is also important to remember that certain breeds of dogs, along with young and old dogs, may suffer from the cold more/ If you feel this is the case, then it is probably worth investing in warm fleece. Equifleece (Other brands available) are worth considering both for you and your dog. This will help keep them warm and dry but still allow them to run, play and go to the toilet.
if possible, try and take some kind of travel towel when you go on your walks. This will enable you to dry their paws and remove ice and snow as you go. Once home, make sure that you wash their paws to remove any rock salt and ice etc. Now you can dry them off properly, so it may be best to consider skipping a walk. Our article on exercising your dog in winter is a great read.
The most obvious consequence of cold weather is hypothermia – when your dog gets too cold. The first symptom is shivering followed by lethargy, lack of coordination, breathing difficulties and eventually collapse and cardiac arrest. Mild hypothermia – shivering – can be treated simply by taking your dog back into the warmth, but once it has progressed past that stage, you will need to get your dog to the vet. Never leave your dog in the car in cold weather. The temperature can drop quickly and with little warning. Short-haired dogs, puppies and older dogs all feel the cold and will welcome a warm jumper or jacket to wear on walks
Winter Dog Care Prevention treatments
Cold and dry weather can have a detrimental effect on your dog’s skin, causing dryness and flakiness. Provide a coat and skin supplement added to his food. Fish and coconut oil are beneficial to keep him in tip-top form.
If you find his paw pads are dry, cracked or chapped, add a coating of petroleum jelly. Massaging in a small amount before you take your dog for a walk in the snow will protect his pads and seal in moisture. A good tip is to apply it at night before they go to sleep and if need be, let him wear some bed socks to prevent him from licking his pads. Herbal moisturisers made from Calendula or St. John’s Wort ingredients may also aid to heal and soothe a dog’s sore feet pads. It is worth checking out Dorwest Herbs
Extreme winter weather brings many concerns for the responsible dog owner. Biting winds, numbing sleet and rain and the bitter cold, can cause discomfort for your beloved pet. Pay extra special attention to your dog’s welfare during this weather and ensure that you both enjoy this winter season to its fullest.
Consider puppies and older dogs
if you have an older dog or a young puppy, they can suffer more in cold weather conditions. This is also the case if your dog has any ongoing health issues such as kidney problems etc., as their immune system is not as effective.
If this is the case, you need to keep an extra eye on them during the cold weather and make sure they have a nice warm cosy bed to rest.
please also read our article o Can dogs die in the cold
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