For many of us, winter is in full effect. It’s cold and snowy and making sure we are able to keep ourselves warm and dry has become very important. Not only do we need to look out for our own safety, it is important to make sure your dog is safe as well. Just as excessive heat in the summer can be dangerous, so can excessive cold.
“It is incumbent on animal caregivers and owners to ensure their dog is not in distress at anytime, whether this be in a hot car or in cold weather,“ says Eileen Drever, Senior Protection Officer with the British Columbia SPCA.
Although breeds like the Siberian Husky and Malamute are much more tolerant to the cold, breeds with soft-coats are much more vulnerable.
How can owners recognize if their dog is too cold?
Dr. Christine Kirby, a Whistler-based veterinarian at Coast Mountain Veterinary Services, says, “A dog that is feeling cold may shiver, they may just put on the brakes and refuse to walk. Small dogs may ask to be picked up. Ignoring these signs could lead to a dog that is too cold or dangerously cold. They are often moving very slowly and may not want to get up and walk at all.”
If your dog has been exposed to subzero temperatures, Dr. Kirby suggests bringing the dog inside and warming them up with blankets that are fresh from the dryer. If the dog is lethargic or not responding normally you should seek immediate veterinary attention.
“Avoid heating pads as they can burn pets,” adds Dr. Kirby.
If you must expose your dog to the cold, there are several precautions you can take.
“Increasing the amount of their normal food is often sufficient if they are spending a lot of time exercising outside. Their body spends more energy generating heat to keep warm,” says Kirby. “If they are not used to the temperatures, then a warm jacket can help.”
If your dog doesn’t wear boots, be sure to check their paws and remove any salt or ice balls that have collected.
You and your dog can still enjoy some time outside together during the winter as long as you take a little extra care to ensure their safety.
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