The cold winter months have arrived, and you want to ensure your dog stays warm and cozy. While they may have a fur coat sometimes your dog needs extra attention to stay warm. Our team at Animal Emergency Care provides tips to help keep your dog toasty while enjoying winter activities.
#1: Recognize if your dog is sensitive to the cold
Some dogs are more prone to cold sensitivity than others. Small and toy breed dogs, short-haired dogs, and breeds who don’t have an undercoat are more likely to get cold than breeds such as Saint Bernards, Alaskan malamutes, and Siberian huskies. In addition, puppies and older dogs are more sensitive to the cold.
#2: Dress your dog for the elements
Many dog sweaters and coats are available to help keep your dog warm. Consider a few factors when purchasing your dog’s winter wardrobe.
- Your dog’s willingness — If your dog is not used to wearing clothes, they may find being dressed in winter apparel stressful and upsetting. Introduce the new clothing slowly so your dog can get used to it. Some dogs may prefer items they can step into to avoid having clothing articles pulled over their head. Give them time to adjust to wearing their new duds before taking them on outings to ensure they do not get anxious.
- The clothing’s fit — The apparel should fit comfortably without being too tight. Check the clothing at the neck, armpits, and groin, ensuring you can comfortably fit two fingers between the fabric and your dog. You also want to ensure the clothing is not too loose so they don’t become entangled in the fabric.
- The clothing’s comfort — Check to see that the material is not irritating to your dog’s skin and that any seams or zippers do not bother them when they walk or lie down.
- Other dogs —Ensure other pets do not pull or bite on your dog’s clothing during playtime Their teeth can easily get caught in the material.
Wash your dog’s winter apparel regularly using detergent that is dye and fragrance free to prevent your dog’s skin from becoming irritated.
#3: Check your dog’s paws
Ice, deicer, and salt can build up on your dog’s paws during your daily walk. Your pet can ingest harmful chemicals if they lick their paws which can lead to serious health problems. The cold temperatures can also cause tissue damage to their sensitive paws. Booties are a great way to protect your dog’s feet and they are available in every paw size. If your dog rejects the booties, wax products are available that will form a semi-permeable barrier over their paws to provide some protection.
#4: Limit your dog’s outdoor time on cold days
Do not leave your dog outside for long periods of time on extremely cold days. Limit their time to bathroom breaks and brief walks, especially if they are sensitive to the cold. Never leave your dog unattended in a car on cold days (or ever).
#5: Ensure your dog has places to warm up inside
Provide comfortable, cozy beds for your dog to warm up on when they come in from the cold. Placing a blanket on their bed can help provide additional insulation if needed. Heated dog beds and pads are available for dogs particularly sensitive to the cold, but ensure the product is safe and appropriate for your pet. These products should never be used if your dog has difficulty getting up since they could be burned if they cannot move away when the bed or the pad gets too hot. Also avoid using space heaters which can be knocked over easily and potentially injure your dog.
#6: Know how to recognize hypothermia in dogs
The normal body temperature for dogs is 101 to 102.5 degrees, and hypothermia can set in if their temperature drops to around 99 degrees. When this occurs, blood vessels near the surface constrict to send blood away from the skin, legs, ears, feet, and nose and toward essential organs such as the brain and heart. Hypothermia can vary in severity.
- Mild hypothermia — Your dog’s ears, limbs, and paws will be cool to the touch and may appear pale.
- Moderate hypothermia — Your dog will start to shiver and their muscles will become tense. While the muscular activity produces heat, it also can make your dog’s movements stiff and clumsy. Other signs include sluggishness, confusion, and pale gums.
- Severe hypothermia — Your dog will stop shivering and their body temperature will drop rapidly. Their heart rate will slow and become erratic. Their breathing will slow down and they will become increasingly lethargic and unresponsive as their oxygen levels drop.
If your dog becomes hypothermic, get them to a warm area as soon as possible, and warm them using blankets and warm water bottles. They will need prompt emergency veterinary attention to get back to their normal body temperature.
Keeping your dog warm this winter will protect them from many issues the cold can cause. If your dog is experiencing a veterinary emergency caused by the cold, contact our team at Animal Emergency Care so we can get them on the warm road to recovery. #AECprevents