Colder weather and your dog

Health conditions to be aware ofsnow-fred

Winter is coming and with it a new set of issues to be aware of. Some of them are pretty obvious whilst others aren’t unless you know what you’re looking for.

Hypothermia

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.

Frostbite

This is when the extremities, paws, tail tip, ear tips etc, start to die due to intense cold. It will appear to be pale and cold to the touch. Once warmed it will become red and sore. If the area is extremely damaged your vet will need to remove the dead tissue to avoid gangrene.

Cracked paws and ice-balls

Walking your dog on salty gritty roads can result in the pads drying out and becoming cracked and sore. And in very cold conditions long hairs around the pads can become frozen into small balls. Buy boots if necessary to protect your dog if he will wear them. Trim long hairs to prevent ice-balls forming and always wipe off salt and grit from your dog’s legs and tummy after a walk. Don’t allow him to lick it off as the salt could damage his kidneys.

Poisoning

Antifreeze is very poisonous to dogs – only a few spoonfuls can be enough to cause kidney damage – yet is unfortunately quite sweet tasting. Keep antifreeze well away from your dog and wipe up and spillages immediately making sure to wash away all traces.

Chocolate is another substance that is toxic to dogs so make sure that you keep the Christmas choccies for humans only!

Obesity

Finally, if the weather means your walks are shorter or your dog simply prefers to spend more time in front of the fire than running around the park make sure you aren’t over feeding him.