Dogs may have the advantage of having fur to cover their bodies during colder winters but they are still vulnerable to the wintery elements. While outside, if your dog starts to whine, shiver, and stops playing to look for a place to burrow, it’s time to bring your fur-baby inside a warmer place.
Furry animals can be vulnerable to frostbite or hypothermia. Look for signs of frostbite, especially around the extremities like the ears, paws or tail; the skin could turn pale or grey, and become colder and harder to the touch.
Hypothermia occurs when your dog remains so cold that he starts to shiver and his ears and feet are cold to touch. If left untreated, severe hypothermia is life-threatening when his muscles stiffen and the heart and breathing rates slow down, and he no longer responds to stimuli.
Fortunately, there are many ways to keep your dog safe during the cold months.
Pay Attention to your Dog’s Extremities
Your dog’s coat needs to be clean and well groomed to be properly insulated against the winter air and hold off on the haircuts in the winter. If you notice your dog’s skin is dry or cracking, you can apply a dab of coconut oil topically to moisturize their ears, paws or tail and add a skin and coat supplement to their food. Ask your veterinarian for further guidance.
Some dog breeds have thinner fur coats and would benefit from wearing a doggie jacket or sweater that covers his body from the neck to the base of the tail when out for a walk. Just be aware that your dog’s ears, paws and tail are still exposed to the elements so keep a close eye on your furry friend.
Paws need careful attention from harmful chemicals like deicers and salt. If your dog won’t wear specially designed booties, you can use a towel to wipe down their paws after a walk.
Increase Visibility After Dark
The days are darker earlier in the winter so for safety, keep your dog on a leash when out on a walk. Statistically, more dogs are lost during the winter than any other season as the cold air can make it difficult for them to find their scents. While your dog saunters down the sidewalk with his debonair leash and collar from Concha Collar, wear a reflective vest so that others can see your dynamic duo in the dark.
Do you have a warm bed for your dog? Sleeping on a cold, bare floor or near drafts will bring down your dog’s body temperature so a warm bed with blankets to snuggle under is vital for his health and comfort. Dogs with arthritic conditions may enjoy a heated pet bed to soothe their aching joints.
While it is always important for animals to stay hydrated year round, between the lower humidity in the winter and your dog’s activities as well as his physiological efforts to keep warm, he needs access to clean drinking water. If you’re worried that your dog is not well hydrated, you can entice him to drink more by adding a low sodium onion-free broth to his water bowl or to his food.
So, as a rule of thumb, if it is getting too cold for you to stay outdoors, then it is too cold for your pet as well. When you bundle up for warmth, your dog will need to be bundled up too. Drink well, eat healthy, avoid toxins and get plenty of rest and you will be successful in keeping your dog safe during the cold months.