Winter seems to really be spooling up this week in many parts of the country, so it seems like a good time to send out a reminder about preventing frostbite and hypothermia in your pets.
First and foremost, bring your dog inside if at all possible as the mercury drops.
“Even if it’s a utility room, barn or garage,” said Dr. Genie O’Neal, co-owner of the Abingdon Animal Medical Center in Virginia. “They have to have shelter from the wind, and dry bedding.”
Also, keep a close eye on those water bowls. Not only will dogs not be able to hydrate when their water is frozen, Dr. O’Neal says they can also get their tongues stuck. Gives me goosebumps to picture that horrid scene from A Christmas Story where the little boy’s tongue gets stuck to a pole. OUCH. Imagine having that happen to your poor pup.
As for the pets who already live indoors but just want a little fresh air, Dr. O’Neal says we should make it quick.
“Keep it brief for exercise or bathroom breaks. Supervise them, especially the very young and the very old and really small dogs.”
And pay attention to what their little bodies are telling you. Shivering is the first sign of hypothermia. Time to head inside.
If you don’t intervene, it can be deadly for your dog.
“When it’s moderate to severe, you may notice a change in mental status – they’ll become depressed,” said Dr. O’Neal. “Their heartrate will slow, respiration will slow. They can go into cardiac arrest.”
Dr. O’Neal also tells us that dogs on medication for hypothyroidism may be more prone to developing hypothermia so they will need to be monitored even more closely. And no matter what kind of meds your pet is on, be sure to have extra available in case you get snowed in and can’t get out. The same goes for pet food – have plenty on hand!
Some dogs LOVE the cold weather and the snow. The Fetching Apparel dog, Jeffrey, comes to life when things get brisk outside. Throw a bunch of powder into the mix and that pup is downright frisky. Even his little brother Dasher, who normally likes to do his business and dash back inside when it’s chilly, has taken to bounding around the yard like a little springbok, and trying desperately to keep up with the oh-so-agile Jeffrey.
But even those winter-loving dogs may need a little extra protection in the extreme conditions.
“The extremities are most prone to frost bite,” said Dr. O’Neal. “The ears, the feet, the tail, the underside if they’re sitting on a cold surface. Frostbite is dangerous – it’s the actual death of the tissue.”
Dr. O’Neal recommends doggie jackets and booties!
“Those snow clumps can lead to frostbite,” said Dr. O’Neal. “Booties are good to protect them, if they’ll wear them.”
You might want to consider these Ruffwear boot liners for your dog. They’re getting great reviews for the way they help keep boots in place and no doubt add warmth.
If you have a very active dog that wants to be outdoors a lot, it can be a really cool time to bond and get some fresh air and exercise together. And grab some extra treats because your dog’s metabolism will be increased. Now that’s a fun bonus! I never want to overfeed our pups, but they do love getting treats – especially when they’re sitting so nicely. Good boys!
Here is some more helpful information we found at dogtopics.com about frostbite and hypothermia in dogs.
A good rule of thumb for making the most of outdoor time with your pets in the winter, if the cold starts getting to you, your four-legged friend is probably feeling it too. In the meantime, go play!
What’s your favorite winter activity to do with your dog? We would love to hear from you and see your pictures!