When winter comes, playing in the snow is definitely fun! While both of you and your pooch may enjoy it, remember that the cold can also be unsafe for your little furball. Unfortunately, a pet that gets too unbearably cold outside could develop hypothermia which is a condition when one’s body temperature dramatically falls below normal. When this happens, your dog’s muscles stiffen and his breathing and heart rates slow down which alarmingly could cause him to die. Frostbites are less common but it can still happen. Fido’s ears, paws, and tail are the most susceptible parts to its damage. Keep in mind that a harsh winter wind can create more wind chill, affecting your pet as much as it does you so if you start feeling uncomfortable and you realize you have to bundle up, your little pooch could potentially be at some serious risk.
Spotting the Signs of a Problem
If you and your small dog are outdoors having fun during the crisp winter weather, you would know that your pet already had enough if he demonstrates the following:
- Suddenly whines and barks
- Stops moving
- Acts anxious or fearful
- Looks for safety (i.e. under a bush or car, or anyplace to hide)
Cold Weather Dog Safety Tips
As a responsible dog parent, you have to prevent any dangers that may affect your pooch’s health and that will put his life on the line. Here’s what you can do to ensure that your furry friend will be okay despite the cold weather:
- Do not shave Fido down to the skin. As longer coats provide more warmth, never shave your pooch during winter. If your little furball has long hair, just trim his coat to keep ice balls, salt crystals, and de-icing chemicals from clinging to it. If he is short-haired, then simply consider getting him a turtle-neck sweater or high-collared coat with coverage from the base of his tail to his belly.
- Use petroleum jelly on Fido’s paws. Massage any paw-protectant into your dog’s paw pads before going outside to protect his feel from salt and other chemical agents.
- Bring a towel during long walks outside. Clean off irritated paws with a towel. After each stroll, wash and dry your dog’s feet as well as stomach with a clean towel in order to get rid of ice, salt, and chemicals. Also, check for any redness between his toes or cracks in his paw pads.
- Humidify your home. Itchy, flaking skin in dogs can be caused by him repeatedly coming out of the cold into the dry heat of your house. Keep your place humidified and ensure that you towel-dry your dog as soon as he comes inside. Pay special attention to his feet as you remove any snow balls trapped from between his foot pads.
- Do not bathe your dog as often during cold spells. Shower your pooch only as little as possible washing them too frequently can remove the essential oils from his coat; hence, increase the chance of him developing dry, flaky skin. If your dog has to be bathed time and again despite the weather, just ask your vet to recommend some sort of rinse or moisturizing dog shampoo.
- Feed him properly and ensure that he has a warm spot to sleep in. Pets generally burn extra energy during wintertime in order to stay warm for the entire season. Feed your pooch a little bit more during these cold months to meet their increased calorie requirement. Make sure that you keep him well-hydrated as well by providing your dog enough clean water to drink. Lastly, do not forget that Fido has a cozy place at home to sleep in, away from all drafts, and definitely off the cold floor. A nice dog bed with warm blanket and pillow is perfect.