By: Tracey Zysk – January 2013
Like humans, dogs can experience hypothermia and frostbite. They can also become victims of inappropriate shelter, lack of water and become poisoned by heating oil and antifreeze.
When going outside you must make a conscience effort to keep your dog warm:
Short haired breeds or puppies – please consider a sweater or coat. Chances are they will only want to go out for a quick potty break. Because of their lack of fur they will become cold much quicker. Take them out and immediately back in. A quick 5-10 minute piddle break is sufficient and then you can spoil them with indoor play time. You and your dog will be much warmer and happier.
Long haired breeds and big dogs- They will probably be pummeling through the snow in your yard and having a great time. Keep an eye on them, do limit their time, but know they will have a longer tolerance to the cold than the tiny pups.
Dry your dogs off thoroughly when they come in. This will eliminate the chill that could linger along their bodies and help prevent the flu. For our long haired furry friends, brush regularly, salt and dirt could build up in their fur. This could also cause other health problems, make your dog smell, and will most likely drag a lot of dirt into your home too.
Check all your dogs paws for salt. If they have fur in between their paws, cut the fur back or ask your groomer to do this. Salt could build up and sting your dog or may cause your dog to lick profusely. This may cause your dogs to cut their paw pads while they are trying to dig the salt out.
Frostbite does happen quite quickly to our pets. The most common areas affected are the ears, toes tails and their lungs. But how do you know if your dog is experiencing frostbite? The frost bitten area may become read or swollen or the skin may become pale. Your dog may even attempt to tell your with a little whimper too.
If Frostbite is to happen: Cover the area in a blanket and rub your hands over that area. This will help get the blood to circulate. Also, take a warm towel and place it on the affected area, please do not use a hot towel. Hot over warm may be too strong for your dog and this could cause the body to go into shock. Call your Veterinarian if you believe your dog has experienced frostbite.
On the days our weather provides strong winds or low temperatures and wind-chill falls below zero are the days you will want to forgo a long walk with your dog. Hypothermia can set in quite quickly with your dog. A dog that experiences hypothermia usually show signs of shivering, stumbling, drowsiness and their body temperatures will have dropped dramatically. Same as a dog with frostbite, if you believe your dog has experienced hypothermia please contact your Veterinarian immediately.
Winter is here and will be with us for the next couple of months. As a dog owner if your take the correct precautions both you and your dog will have a lot of fun together and enjoy this Winter Wonderland !
Tracey Zysk, owner of Wiggles & Jiggles Pet Care in North Andover MA is a local pet care professional. She has been featured on local radio, tv and newspapers educating the general public on animal care and animal health & wellness. Tracey is a proud supporter of Police, Fire & Military K9 units. Tracey may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Become a fan on facebook at Wiggles & Jiggles Pet Care.