When you can feel the seasons changing from autumn to wintery weather, we instinctively change our habitual routines for the approaching cold, damp even freezing conditions. But rarely do we think of our four legged friends, Just because they have fur doesn’t mean that their coat is in any way adequate to deal with freezing weather. “think about it”, some breeds such as Huskies or Alaskan Malamutes have the genetics to be able withstand long periods of time outdoors in cold freezing weather. On the other hand, breeds such as The Staffordshire Bull Terrier or the English Bull Dog, do not have the same protective fur or extra padding on their paws to endure these prolonged freezing weather conditions. It only takes a few moments to ready your dog for the changing weather conditions.
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A Healthy Dog in The Winter Months
Dogs will often need to eat more during the winter months, and consume more calories to help them produce sufficient amounts of their own body heat. Consulting a veterinarian on how to increase the dog’s caloric intake, without overfeeding, is the best way to accomplish this. If a dog ever begins to shake or shiver from cold temperatures, make an effort to slowly, but steadily, warm him/ her, as persistent shivering is a sign of hypothermia, which can be very dangerous to both dogs and humans.
As a guide a dog’s temperature is always slightly warmer than the average human’s temperature. When forecasts get too chilly, a few special precautions are all that’s generally needed to make sure that you and your dog are comfortable on winter days.
The following is a list of Do’s and Don’ts to help you give your dog the cold-weather care they deserve.
Do provide proper shelter:
If a dog lives outside in a tradition kennel, consider covering the top of the kennel with a water-resistant tarpaulin, or other protective covering, this will protect your dog from the elements. Or, consider placing a doghouse inside of the kennel, so that the dog has safe shelter from rain, snow and driving winds. Additional to this, dog’s bedding should also always be slightly elevated to keep from becoming wet or frozen. Special heaters or heating pads may also be added to the kennel or doghouse to provide additional warmth. If using a heating device, be sure it is designed for use in pet shelters, as regular heaters are never to be used in animal shelters or enclosures.
If it gets too cold outside, consider bringing a dog inside, especially during the evening hours when the temperature drops dramatically, and prepare a warm space for them to sleep through the night.
If you can’t keep your dog indoors during winter months, provide an elevated structure with a door to protect pets from wind and changing weather conditions. Provide dry, clean bedding materials such as straw or blankets and replace bedding if it becomes damp or wet. Find a house large enough for you dog to be able to stand up and turn around, but small enough to retain thier body heat. Not to be bias but this is exactly what the STRONGDOGZ™ KENNELS is built for.
Do provide indoor dogs with a warm sleeping area away from drafts.
Do use caution around bodies of water. Keep pets away from rivers, ponds and lakes as they begin to freeze. Continue to use caution even when the water appears completely frozen.
Do keep hair around paw pads trimmed. Less hair will help keep paws free of ice and snow, which can quickly ball up between footpads and create uncomfortable walking conditions for pets.
Do check paw pads for small cuts and cracks. Consider dog boots for dogs that react negatively to walking on ice and snow – especially dogs that react to snow removal products.
Do clean your dog’s paws after walks to remove salt and snow removal chemicals, which can be toxic to pets.
Do check your dog’s ears, tail and feet for frostbite. Just as dogs are sensitive to hot summer pavements, cold winter walkways may cause pain or contribute to frostbite. A dog that continually lifts individual legs off the ground during a winter walk may feel the effects of frostbite. Frostbitten skin may appear red or gray. If you suspect frostbite, wrap your dog’s feet in a blanket or towels to gradually warm them and contact your veterinarian.
Do provide the proper type and amount of food for the season. Dogs housed outdoors and dogs that participate in strenuous outdoor activities may require additional food during colder weather. On the other hand, indoor dogs that exercise less frequently in colder months may need less food.
Do provide adequate fresh, unfrozen water. If your dog lives outside, consider investing in a heated water bowl. Indoor dogs also may require more water to combat dry winter air.
Do invest in a pet sweater for shorthaired breeds. Watch for telltale signs that your pet is cold. Like us, pets will shiver in response to being chilled.
Do keep puppies and older dogs indoors except for short periods of time. As with humans, young and old dogs are more susceptible to the effects of the cold.
Do keep dogs on a leash – especially during bad weather or snowstorms when they can lose their ability to find their way by smell.
Do pay attention to snow removal. Avoid piling snow near fences and creating an escape route for curious pets.
Do keep identification tags updated in the event your dog runs away.
Do clean up antifreeze spills immediately. Many dogs like the sweet smell and taste and, unfortunately, even very small amounts can be lethal to them. If you suspect that your dog has ingested antifreeze, take your dog to your veterinarian immediately. There may be time for Antizol-Vet, an anti-freeze antidote, to help your dog. Also consider using an animal-friendly anti-freeze.
Do maintain your pet’s grooming schedule. Regular brushing keeps your dog’s coat supple and prepared for the cold. However, when you bathe your pet, be sure to dry his coat thoroughly before allowing him outside.
Do visit your veterinarian for a checkup before the cold weather strikes. Cold weather may exacerbate certain conditions, such as arthritis. Sudden changes in the weather or drops in temperature may affect pets suffering from osteoarthritis.
Don’t suddenly house an indoor dog outdoors. Dogs require a month or more (as seasons change) to become accustomed to lower winter temperatures.
Don’t keep your dog outside in all conditions. Pay attention to the thermometer. If it dips too far below freezing, it’s too cold for any dog – even those accustomed to being outside.
Don’t treat all dogs alike. Breeds such as Huskies or Alaskan Malamutes have the genetics to be able withstand long periods of time outdoors in cold freezing weather. On the other hand, breeds such as The Staffordshire Bull Terrier or the English Bull Dog, do not have the same protective fur or extra padding on their paws to endure these prolonged freezing weather conditions.
Don’t leave pets alone in cars during cold weather months. When the engine is off, a car can act as a refrigerator, holding in the cold.
If in doubt consult your Vet.