Get Psyched Up for Winter!
We tend to think of the summer as being more dangerous for our pets because we know that it can be fatal to leave our much-loved furry friend locked in the car while it is hot outside, and we also know that this can happen during the summer. Unfortunately, the winter months can be just as hazardous as the summer months.
An ordinary stroll in the snow during the winter can quickly become dangerous. Dogs rely heavily on their acute sense of smell, and if they are free to explore the outdoors on their own, they run the risk of easily losing the scent trail they have been following, which could lead them to wander off in a direction that could cause them to become lost. They might also become more dangerous when they are near a body of water. Even though the water may be sufficiently frozen to support snow, it is not frozen well enough to support a dog that is too busy running around and sniffing to pay attention to it.
One more thing to think about is the attire that your dog wears whenever they go outside. Coats for dogs are not just for making a fashion statement; they also keep your dog warm and protect them from the elements. There are certain breeds of dogs that are better able to withstand cold temperatures than others because they have double coats of fur that act as insulation for them. Because they lack the additional fur that provides insulation, dogs with smooth coats, such as Boxers, Greyhounds, Weimaraners, and Daschunds, amongst others, are more prone to being affected by the elements.
Even though the rest of the body is shielded, frostbite or hypothermia (which occurs when a dog’s body temperature falls to 96 degrees Fahrenheit or lower) could develop in the toes and feet if the temperature is extremely low. Frostbite can also affect the ears, which can lead to damage of the tiny capillaries that are found in the ear canal. If you think you might have frostbite, you should contact your veterinarian right away.
When your dog comes inside, you should carefully inspect his or her paws to make sure they are healthy. They are able to easily collect snow in the spaces between their pads. Because of this, they run the risk of getting frostbite and abrasions on their feet. During the winter, a lot of people use salt and other chemicals to melt snow and ice. Unfortunately, your dog’s paws are particularly vulnerable to the harmful effects of these chemicals.
If you live in an area where you are required to walk your dog on the sidewalk, it is a good idea to protect your dog’s feet by either purchasing dog booties or applying a protective balm to your dog’s paws.
Another helpful suggestion for when you come in from the cold is to give your dog a foot bath. You will not only be able to remove those chemicals from your dog’s paws, but you will also be able to prevent your dog from ingesting them. Make sure that the feet are dried completely to avoid getting any bacteria on them. Washing your dog’s paws helps prevent cracks and cuts from appearing on the paw pads, which can otherwise develop over time. Because, like our own skin, the pads have a tendency to become dry in the wintertime, you can also use balms to help keep them soft. This is especially helpful during the colder months.
As the colder weather of winter draws closer, here are some useful reminders to keep in mind:
- If your hands and fingers are cold, your dog’s pads may also be feeling the cold because they are similar to your hands and fingers. To put it simply, if you feel that the temperature is uncomfortably cold, then so will your dog.
- If you let your dog spend a lot of time outside, you should provide him with a dry shelter that is elevated off the ground.
- You should wash your dog’s feet and protect them from the elements.
It is never too early to start preparing and winterizing your pets, even though we are still a little while away from the arrival of winter.