How To Keep Your Dog Warm In Winter
Many people think that dogs can endure cold temperatures better than humans because they have a coat of fur. This, however, is not true because, just like us, dogs prefer the warmth inside the house. Freezing temperatures can be hazardous to dogs.
Every dog is built differently, so an outdoor temperature that feels bearable to one may send another in search of warmth. This difference in the tolerance for cold is determined by dog’s:
- coat color,
- age, and
- overall health.
Winter is a season when we need to put a little extra effort into the care for our pets. So in this article, we’ll explain the risks of freezing conditions to your dog. We will also give suggestions to keep your pup safe this cold season.
Winter health risks to your dog
The two most serious effects of cold temperatures for dogs are:
Frostbite – Frostbite begins when a dog gets cold, and its body starts to pull blood to the center to stay warm. With prolonged exposure, the dog’s ears, nose, paws, and other parts get so cold that ice crystals form in the tissue causing so much damage.
Parts with severe frostbite turn black and eventually fall off. But when detected early, they can be warmed back to normal. This, however, will be a harrowing experience for your dog.
Hypothermia – Hypothermia occurs when a dog spends too much time or gets wet in the cold. In mild cases, the dog will shiver, and its ears and paws will become frozen. However, as the condition progresses, the dog’s muscles will stiffen, the heart and breathing rates slow down. If left unchecked, the dog may die.
How do I know if my dog is cold?
The following are signs that show you that your dog cannot bear the cold anymore:
- Refusing to play
- Refusing to leave the dog house
- Your dog keeps looking for warm places to lie down.
How can I keep my pup safe this winter?
Limit your dog’s time outside
Your little pup may love spending time outdoors, but when temperatures drop, even the furriest dog can get cold because their ears, paws, and tails are susceptible to frostbite. You can still take your dog out for regular walks, play, and exercises, but when it gets cold, head straight back inside where it’s warm.
A good habit to try is to go out with your pup, and when it gets uncomfortably cold for you, head back home and set him up somewhere warm or buy the warmest dog bed because he’ll probably be freezing too. If your dog is playing in your yard alone, check on him regularly to ensure that he’s not showing any signs of hypothermia or frostbite.
Keep the dog-house warm
If your dog has to sleep outside, you need to provide him with a warm and dry place to protect him from the harsh night breeze. Get him a kennel with a lot of room and a raised floor to shield him from the cold. You should ensure that the doghouse always has dry bedding and a warm blanket. You can also get a dog-house heater to keep the temperature around your pup at an optimum.
Dress your dog warmly
Puppies, old dogs, and dogs with thin coats often need a bit of help to maintain their body heat, so you may want to consider getting your pet a sweater or little dog boots to protect him as you walk him. You can also get one for your thick-furred dog, but be careful when you do it because some dogs are more acclimated to the cold weather, and a sweater added to their thick fur may cause overheating.
If you live in a snowy area, you need to take extra care of your dog’s paws after every walk to avoid cracked paw pads. If your pup has furry feet, trim the hairs to prevent ice from building up between the paw pads. Winter salt can also burn your dog’s paws and is toxic to ingest, so always rinse and wipe his pads after every walk to remove the chemicals. You can also avoid all that by protecting your puppy’s paws using dog booties.
Let your dog sleep inside
We all struggle to keep the inside of our homes warm and comfortable during colder months, so if your dog sleeps inside the house, he will enjoy the same benefits. You can get him an elevated bed or a heating pad for extra protection against the cold. If you prefer to sleep with your dog on the same bed, confirm if it’s safe to cover her with your blanket to ensure she doesn’t suffocate during the night.