Winter Health

Winter Allergies and Health Issues in Dogs

Wintertime brings many and varied health issues to the fore for people and dogs alike. Some medical conditions like heart disease or diabetes can affect a dog’s ability to regulate its body temperature in cold weather. Our coughs and sneezes are fairly quickly treated with a quick visit to a pharmacy or physician, but our dogs rely on us to be vigilant to spot problems occurring and get the appropriate treatment for them. Some dogs, like Huskies or Malamutes, are bred to withstand freezing temperatures, but most breeds are not and need as much care and protection from harsh weather as we do.

Smaller dogs and the cold

As a general rule, small dogs, particularly short-haired breeds, and puppies are more likely to feel the effects of colder temperatures, so it is better to limit the time they spend outside. A coat will also benefit short-haired breeds. Puppies playing in their first snow look adorable, but they can easily become hypothermic very quickly. And keep an eye on the long-haired breeds; snow and ice can become impacted and lead to matted fur and ice-packed paws, lowering the dog’s temperature leading to hypothermia or even ice burns on the skin. An excellent way to prevent damage caused by packed ice is to keep the fur-trimmed, especially on the feet between the toes. Various products are available that are designed to protect your dog’s feet in the winter months, including dog boots and balms or waxes, so it may be worth checking these out. But the best protection for your dog’s feet and fur is to take him out for shorter walks throughout the winter months.

Anti freeze and allergies

Watch out for anti-freeze, which is often spilled from vehicle radiators onto the ground. This can contain a substance that is attractive to animals, and they may be tempted to lick it, but -anti-freeze is highly toxic and can result in the death of the animal.

Allergies often rise in the coldest months and can be made worse when we turn up the heating. Increased indoor temperatures and the lower circulation of fresh air can increase mould spores, aggravating breathing and dry skin conditions like eczema. Watch out for the symptoms of winter allergies; these could include hair loss and redness of the skin, itching and scratching, or a bad smell from the affected areas.   Various treatments are available to buy to relieve your dog’s allergies, but a very severe reaction could require veterinary treatment.

All in all, if you’re at all worried about your dog’s health this winter, take them to the vets for a winter check-up to make sure everything is ok.

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