There is a common misbelieve that dogs do not experience cold as intensely as human beings, given their thick fur coat. In reality, these too can suffer from low temperatures, especially if the time outside is prolonged. The biggest risks related to cold exposure are hypothermia and frostbite, so you need to learn how to protect your dog from the cold.
Ensuring the necessary protection is easier than you might think. In fact, when thinking about the best ways to shelter your furry friend from wintry conditions, take into account the measures you use for yourself. We also want to be of help, so we have gathered a number of solutions to employ this winter season.
A warm Coat for a stable Body Temperature
According to Simplyfordogs, dogs who are smaller in size present a higher risk of cold-related complications. The same goes for those who have shorter hair, so wearing a coat or sweater might be just the thing they needed to stay warm.
Keep in mind that older dogs require such accessories, as they can have trouble when it comes to keeping their body temperature stable. Puppies are especially sensitive to extreme temperatures, requiring clothing to avoid hypothermia.
More Time indoors
If the weather is not pleasant and the thermometer is has gone way down, you might want to consider limiting the time spent outdoors. Even if your dog has a thick coat, this does not mean he can withstand the winter cold for a prolonged period of time.
A short walk is sufficient for your pet friend when the weather is extremely cold. Consider the fact that his extremities are exposed, especially the paws which come in direct contact with the pavement. Once outside, make sure your dog is active, as exercise reduces the risk of hypothermia.
Ensure adequate Paw Care
The dog’s paws are sensitive to the cold, requiring adequate care in the winter. After your dog comes inside, be sure to clean the paws, so as to eliminate any substance that might have accumulated. Aside from ice and snow, the dog might come in contact with substances used to defreeze the roads; many of these contain potentially-harmful chemicals.
Always remember that dogs are used to licking their paws, so they might come in direct contact with such substances. Use a clean towel to wipe each paw and make sure to do a quick check for injuries. Take your dog to the vet in case there are cracks in the skin or if you have noticed bleeding. Only a specialist can recommend adequate treatment for such issues.
Learn how to recognize warning Signs
Sometimes, no matter how much you want to protect your dog, you are unable to ensure a positive result. There are dogs that run away and return after several hours, or even some that jumps in cold water without any particular reason. To take immediate action, you need to be able to recognize the warning signs of hypothermia and/or frostbite.
Dogs that are affected by the cold might have difficulty staying in one place, displaying an anxious behavior. They might present visible shivering or become weak all of a sudden. Depending on the reason for hypothermia, they might avoid movement altogether. Many will seek out warmth. The dog should immediately be wrapped in a blanket. Also remember that it might take longer for frostbite to become visible.
A Diet suitable for the Winter
Dogs need a different diet during the winter, particularly if they spend a part of their day in the open outdoors. It is advisable that their diet during the cold season is mostly based on quality sources of protein and fat, with meals that have a warming effect.
If possible, give your dog warm food at all times, and especially after having gone outside. The one thing to pay attention to is the number of calories, as this should not be too high. With dogs that have a lower level of activity, the diet ought not to provide them with more calories than they require. Once again, the vet can help you determine the best diet choices and caloric value for your pet friend.
Ensure proper Shelter for Dogs that remain outside
If, for any reason, your dog must stay outside, you need to ensure proper shelter. Make sure that your furry pal has permanent access to food and water; if there are sub-zero temperatures outside, provide your pet with warm water and warm bedding. Preferably, you would allow your dog to come inside, as this offers the best protection against cold.
Heated shelters are now available, so you might consider one for your dog. Add comfortable bedding and make sure the shelter is raised, so it does not come in contact with the ground. During the night, the temperatures reach even lower levels, so an adequate shelter is a must. Change the bedding if it gets dry and check on your dog regularly.
Avoid bodies of Water, especially with Ice
You might be accustomed to walking your dog near a body of water, such as a pond or a lake. In the winter, these can freeze, being covered in a thick layer of ice. As you cannot know if these will withstand the weight of your dog, you might want to consider changing your route altogether.
Dogs are drawn to such potentially-dangerous locations and they might run on the ice, which can easily break. The instinct will normally be to save your dog, meaning you would both be in danger. Instead of risking your health and life, it might be for the best to choose a safer location for walking.
In conclusion, these are some of the best measures you can take, in order to protect your dog from the cold. The general rule to follow is: if it is too cold for you, it probably is just as cold for your pet friend. And, remember, dogs need shelter and warmth, just like any other being on this planet.