As the temperatures outside begin to drop, it’s important to remember the safety and comfort of your four-legged family members. While you may think of dogs as immune to cold weather, their fur coats don’t make them invincible to illness and injury when it’s cold outside.
Here are a few tips to keep your pup safe and warm this winter.
Ask yourself: How cold is too cold to leave my pup outside?
This is a complicated question with no universal answer. If you’re trying to decide how cold is too cold for your pet, there are couple of factors to consider. First, take your dog’s size into account. As you may remember from science class, cold air sinks, and smaller dogs are lower to the ground. This means that smaller dogs are typically less tolerant of cold temps than large dogs.
Second, how acclimated is your dog to cold weather? If you’re a Texas expat preparing for your first Minnesota winter, you may want to exercise more caution with your pet than if you’ve got a Siberian Husky that’s lived in Alaska his whole life.
Third, don’t forget about wind chill. On a 40-degree day, a bitterly cold wind chill can make it feel more like 20 degrees outside. If that’s is the case, it’s probably best to keep your pup inside as much as possible.
Keep your pet dry on wet winter days
Keeping your dog’s feet and and torso dry on wet winter days not only helps keep your floors clean, but it can also help prevent injuries and illnesses due to snow and ice. When a dog’s toes get wet and cold, their fur can actually trap the cold moisture against their skin and increase the risk of frostbite and a skin infection called pyoderma.
If you’re headed outside for some fun in the snow with your furry friend, throw a couple of dry towels in the dryer on high heat so they’re nice and toasty when you come inside. Pay special attention to the areas between your dog’s toes, called the interdigital webs, and give your dog a thorough drying off with a warm towel, especially if you have a double-coated breed like a Labrador or a German Shepherd. Save the hair dryer for your own locks, as even the lowest setting can dry out or even burn your dog’s sensitive skin.
How to keep your dog from getting sick
Dogs can get colds, upper respiratory infections and even pneumonia just like people do. The best way to prevent these illnesses is to keep your dog current on his vaccines. Winter months mean holidays, house guests and even the occasional trip to the boarding facility, which are the most common ways that dogs can pick up minor illnesses. If your dog shows any signs of illness, such as refusing food, coughing, nasal discharge or trouble breathing, get him to the veterinarian immediately. Acting quickly can prevent a simple upper respiratory infection from turning into full-blown pneumonia.
Chillier temps and holidays are something to look forward to, but they can create a little extra work for pet parents. Taking a few precautionary steps to prevent illness or injury will make this most magical time of year just that more enjoyable!