Keep Your Dog Safe During The Winter With These Tips
Veterinarian Reviewed by Dr. Janice Huntingford, DVM on March 1, 2018
Posted in Dogs
Winter can be a wonderful time of year, bringing forth snow-capped mountain peaks and trees glistening with icicles. But despite its beauty, winter can also bring dangerously cold temperatures, and not just for humans. In this post, we’ll discuss different ways to keep your dog warm and safe when the mercury starts to drop.
Dogs vs Wolves: The Differences Are Crucial
Some people think that dogs are able to shrug off the effects of cold because of their wolf ancestry. This is far from true. Here are some key differences between the species:
- Wolf fur is far more effective at providing cold-weather protection than a dog’s coat.
- Wolf paws endure exposure to the cold much better than those of dogs due to differences in their circulatory systems.
- Mother Nature fashioned wolves for one purpose: to prey on other mammals. This gives them a vastly different mindset than dogs, which must live in peace with humans and other animals. Wolves are indifferent to hardships that would cause dogs great distress.
Now let’s look at how to safeguard your dog from winter’s hazards:
1. Keep Them Warm
Like humans, dogs need an external heat source to stay healthy. Owners must keep them inside for as long as possible during cold weather and/or install a kennel heater in their winter quarters. Avoid using open flame heaters, which can cause carbon monoxide poisoning or serious burns.
2. Mind Their Paws
According to the ASPCA, you should clean your dog’s paws with a dry towel after a trip outside to remove moisture and salt. Use gentle heat to dissolve snow and ice. Dogs are sensitive to frostbite, just like human beings.
3. Keep the Air Moist
Dry winter air can cause skin issues for dogs, so use a humidifier, both for your sake and your pet’s.
4. Protect Them From Poisons
Replacing automobile antifreeze is an annual rite of passage for millions of DIY mechanics. But it’s important to remember that this product is lethal to dogs and other animals. Antifreeze spills should be cleaned up immediately, and dogs should be kept away from areas where antifreeze is stored. If your pet ingests even a few drops of antifreeze, he or she must be taken to the vet right away. In many scary situations, prompt treatment can save a dog’s life.
5. Use Care When Feeding
There’s nothing wrong with occasionally sharing leftovers from your meal with your pet during the winter, but remember that excessive scraps and treats can add up very quickly. So, save the desserts for human beings and reward your dog with health conscious, canine-friendly items instead.
Caring for Older, Frail, Ill, or Physically Impaired Dogs
Certain physical conditions can make your dog especially vulnerable to the rigors of winter. Examples include arthritis, advanced age, metabolic issues, and diabetes. Here are some tips for giving these special pups a little extra care this winter:
- Consider getting your dog his or her own sweater for the cold season. In addition to a super cute look, a sweater will increase protection from wintertime aches and pains.
- Make sure you observe dosing schedules for your pup’s medicines and refill prescriptions just as you would for yourself.
- Never shave a dog’s during or right before winter. They needs this fur or hair for this time of year.
Our dogs provide devotion and companionship throughout their lives, so it only makes sense to give them special care during the winter in return. Your pup will appreciate your loving care and possibly even give you more years to spend together.
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Janice Huntingford, DVM, has been in veterinary practice for over 30 years and has founded two veterinary clinics since receiving her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at the Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph. She has studied extensively in both conventional and holistic modalities. Ask Dr. Jan