Most pet owners understand the dangers of summer heat – dehydration, overheating, and parked cars. Some are not aware, however, that equally hazardous conditions exist during the cooler months as well. What dangers lurk in the snow, and what warning signs should you look for?
The first consideration a dog owner must make is simple: know your dog. Understand the characteristics of his breed. Long haired breeds and those from northern climates are often more equipped to deal with cold weather than short haired breeds. A Siberian husky or German shepherd, for instance, might welcome and enjoy wintry weather.
A second step to knowing your dog’s cold tolerance is to observe him as an individual. If he is shivering or begging to come inside, these are signs that the weather is too cold for him, even if he does have a heavy coat.
What further steps can you take to keep your pet safe?
If you are uncomfortable, your dog may be, too.
There is no definite temperature at which cold weather becomes unsafe for pets. The pet owner must therefore use common sense – if it is windy, raining, or snowing, even moderately cold temperatures may present a risk. Small dogs or those with short fur may benefit from a warm sweater, jacket, or vest.
Be on the lookout for signs of cold weather injury. The most obvious dangers are conditions called hypothermia and frostbite. A dog may become hypothermic when chilly temperatures cause his body temperature to fall below its normal, safe range. Symptoms include stiffness of movement and labored breathing. Although uncommon, frostbite may first manifest itself in limping or in the reddening, paling, or blistering of skin on the extremities, such as the ears or paws. In either of these cases, see your veterinarian immediately. These conditions may result in death if left untreated.
Make sure your pet has adequate food, water, and shelter.
Outdoor dogs will require additional calories in order to produce enough body heat to stay warm. Give your dog plenty to eat and increase his rations if he appears to be losing weight.
When temperatures drop below 32 degrees Fahrenheit (0 degrees Celsius), the water in your dog‘s bowl will freeze. To prevent dehydration, use an approved heating device or change the water regularly.
Your pet should also have shelter in order to retreat from the elements. Adequate shelter should consist of a roof and at least three walls. Bedding such as wood chips, straw, or blankets should be provided to protect the dog from the cold ground, which can sap his body heat. The shelter should be dry and large enough to accommodate your dog whether sitting, standing, or lying down. An outdoor kennel can be wrapped in a tarp or burlap to serve as a windbreak for additional protection.
In extreme cold, accompany your dog outdoors and give him a space inside.
The most foolproof way of making sure your dog is safe in the cold is to go outside with him. In this way, you can observe his reactions to the cold – and your own – to determine if he needs to be brought indoors. When winter temperatures reach dangerous levels, the safest place for your pet may be inside your home. Even if your pet parenting style is outdoors only, you can section off an area in your garage, bathroom, or other area of your home to keep your dog temporarily on the coldest of winter nights.
Older or arthritic dogs and those with certain health conditions may benefit from being kept primarily indoors during cold weather. This can also be a good time to work on your indoor dog training skills.
There are additional dangers that accompany the onset of the winter season not directly related to the temperature. Fear not – simple precautions can protect your beloved pet from man made hazards as well.
In prepping for winter, changing the antifreeze in the family car is a common task. Antifreeze is attractive to pets due to its sweet odor, but just a few mouthfuls can cause deadly kidney failure. Make sure your pet cannot access antifreeze containers, and immediately clean up spills. If you suspect that your dog has consumed antifreeze or if he is suffering from uncoordinated movements, weakness, or seizures, contact your veterinarian immediately.
Salt Used to Melt Ice.
If ingested, many commercial ice melting products can cause stomach upset and even nerve damage. Walking on salted sidewalks can also irritate your dog‘s sensitive foot pads. When going for walks in areas treated with ice melt, keep an eye on your dog and prevent him from eating the material, and wipe his paws with a damp cloth upon your return home. Alternatively, equip your dog with a set of stylish dog boots. Never use ice melt products in areas occupied by your pets.
Employ professional services for excellence in dog care.
Dog boarding and dog daycare are additional cold weather dog care options for dog owners in the Lakewood and Golden areas. Pet Peeves LLC understands the risks involved in winter weather, and their educated and well trained staff will take all the necessary precautions to keep your pet safe, rain, snow, or shine. Pet Peeves‘ outdoor kennel and play yards are adequately weatherproofed, and your dog can relax on 5,000 square feet of heated floors, complete with climate controlled sleeping areas. Pet Peeves‘ staff is ever vigilant to attend to all of your pet’s needs.
In addition to dog daycare and Dog boarding, Pet Peeves LLC is also the premiere source for dog training in the Lakewood and Golden area. Count on the friendly staff at Pet Peeves LLC to satisfy all of your dog care needs.