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 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
At this time of the year, the gritter wagons 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. Ice balls may also form on the fur between his toes and become very painful. If he shows signs of extreme discomfort when walking outside on salted or frozen pavements, consider buying dog boots to protect his feet and pads.
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 sooth a dog’s sore feet pads.
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.