Protect your dog through the winter months

Snow days can mean extra care for our dogs. They are loads of fun for everyone. But, this time of the year can harmful for our furry friends.

Exposure to the extremely dry air and chill can not only cause skin injury but also more serious damage like hypothermia and frostbite.

There are so many things to consider when keeping our canine companions safe during the winter.

Here are some pet protection tips everyone needs to know for the winter weather.

Know Your Dog And Adjust Accordingly

Cold tolerance can vary from pet to pet so knowing your dog’s tolerance for cold weather can help pet protection go smoother. You may have to care for dogs of different breeds and find it difficult to adjust. If so it is worth noting a pet’s cold tolerance is based on their coat, body fat storage, activity level, and health condition.
Being aware of how dogs handle the winter weather. This can give you a helpful insight to manage to keep them safe and healthy during this time. The Winter season means a change-up in daily routines. For example, walks will most likely need to be shortened to protect you from the cold weather.
Thick-coated or long-haired dogs will be colder tolerant. However don’t mistake this for being cold weatherproof, they are still affected by weather-associated health risks if not protected properly.
 protect your dog through winter months - t forrest
Short-haired dogs have less protection They feel the cold faster than long-haired breeds. Short-legged dogs are also prone to becoming cold quickly because their bodies are more likely to come in contact with the snow. Arthritic and elderly pets will generally have a tougher time walking on the snow and ice. Be sure to monitor them in case they slip.

Stay Inside and Wrap Up

It’s easy to believe that pets are more resistant to cold weather because of their fur. But that's simply not true. When the temperature drops, it’s best for our furry friends to stay indoors because they are just as susceptible to hypothermia and frostbite as humans are.
Younger, older, and thinner dogs can be more affected by the winter than most other dogs. Even a short time in a cold car can negatively affect their health.
However, even though staying home is the safer option, it’s still recommended to take precautions. No matter indoor or outdoor, moisturizing your dog’s skin should be a frequent routine. Good moisturizers, like coconut oil, can help prevent flaky skin and keep the coat healthy.
Care for dogs' paws, ears, and tails as these are affected by the harsh weather as well. As much as possible, wintertime should be spent indoors. No worries though, there are tons of fun ways to keep your pup entertained indoors.

Outdoor Time

If you have to go outside for walks or exercise, make sure your dog is wearing protective gear. Canine sweaters that go from neck to tail and doggie winter boots can help protect them.
Even if it’s only slightly windy. Windchill can still threaten your pup’s safety and exposed skin can quickly become affected. As much as possible, limit outdoor time to when the sun shines around late mornings to early afternoons. t forrest protecting your dogs in winter
The sunny temperatures and sunshine bring in some much-needed vitamin D for you and your dog. Make the most of this time by packing some toys, treats or exercise to tire your pup out so he’ll most likely be fine with not going out for a while.

Cosy space

Nobody should ever sleep on a cold floor during winter, pets included. Care for dogs by finding snug, cozy bedding is essential to ensure your dog stays warm and comfy in the otherwise cold weather. Pet blankets and heated pet beds are popular buys during winter.

If your pup still seems uncomfortable, it’s possible they’re settled in an area of the home with a draft. If so, you’ll need to change their sleeping place to a warmer and more comfortable area.

During the winter, you may need to keep an eye on your dog as pets will often seek sources of warmth and may end up cuddling up to the space heater or even fireplace.

This can be extremely dangerous and can cause permanent damage. Installing baseboard radiator covers can prevent your pet from getting burned, but training them not to go near these items works just as well.

Keep Healthy and Hydrated

Despite the cold weather and tons of snow, dogs can still get as dehydrated as they do in the summer. Keep track of your dog’s water intake and make sure they always have fresh, unfrozen water at all times. Dogs also need more food during the winter because staying warm uses more energy. Be attentive to your dog’s nutritional needs and activity level during this time but also don’t overdo it.   

protect your dog through winter season - t.forrest

It’s common for dogs to come out of the winter season a few pounds heavier. The only extra layer a dog needs during the winter should come from its coat. Finding the perfect balance and adjusting their calories accordingly is key to a healthy pup.

Care for dogs fact: When the temperature drops, it’s possible for your pet’s tongue to stick and freeze to metal food or water bowls. Make the switch to plastic bowls during the winter to avoid any sticky situations.

 Paw Protection

A dog’s paws are most prone to injury during snow days. Check your puppy's paws frequently for cold weather damage such as cracked pads or bleeding. Dogs with furrier paws also tend to be susceptible to ice buildup in between the pads. Trimming the fur between the pads is an easy fix for preventing this problem.

Another threat to watch out for: various chemicals on sidewalks. During your walks, your dog’s paws may come in contact with deicers, antifreeze, or other salts that are toxic for pets.

Ice melters can taste sweet and be very tempting for dogs to lick, but they’re also extremely dangerous. Ingesting even a little amount can be fatal.

After-walk-wipe-downs of your pet’s feet, legs, and bellies are essential to prevent your dog from licking these and getting sick or even poisoned. Dog booties are a great way to prevent most damages and protect your dog’s paws.

Consider using pet-safe ice melters to ensure the safety of your pet and all pets in the neighbourhood.

Recognise Problems

A dog’s normal body temperature is from 101°F to 102.5°F, but when exposed to the cold for too long, it can drop to fatally low temperatures. Winter weather related injuries, such as hypothermia and frostbite, can be dangerous so recognising any changes in your dog’s behaviour will help prevent serious illness

Signs of Hypothermia:

  • Violent shivering
  • Lethargy
  • Weak pulse
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Stiffened muscles
  • Lack of appetite
  • Rectal temperature of below 98°F
  • Coma
  • Cardiac Arrest

 Hypothermia is easier to prevent rather than cure. Keep indoors as much as possible or provide your pup with a warm, dry space when outdoors.

If your dog is showing signs of hypothermia, immediately wrap them in a warm blanket and take them into a warm room. A mixture of four teaspoons of honey or sugar dissolved in warm water to drink can provide a much-needed energy boost.

You can also substitute this with one or two teaspoons of corn syrup on your dog’s gums for a more immediate effect, and if they’re too weak to drink.   how to keep your dogs warm in winter - t.forrest

Do not care for dogs with hair dryers or heating pads, as they can cause burns and negatively affect the circulation to vital organs because of dilated blood vessels. Instead, use warm water bottles wrapped in towels against your dog’s abdomen, chest, and underarms, then wrap them up in a blanket.

Consult your veterinarian immediately for the best way to manage hypothermia.

Signs of Frostbite

  • Pale, gray, or blue skin initially
  • Red, puffy skin later on
  • Ears, tail, or paws feel painful when touched
  • Cold skin
  • Shriveled skin
Frostbite occurs when a body part freezes because of winter weather, especially when it’s windy. If you suspect your dog has frostbite, immediately apply warm water to the frostbitten area for at least 20 minutes. Hair dryers, electric blankets, or heating pads are also not recommended because of the possibility of burns.
Please be gentle when handling the affected area, it may be painful for your dog and rubbing or massaging them can lead to permanent damage.
As always, your veterinarian should be approached as soon as possible.