Whether you’re ready or not, colder weather is just around the corner. From blankets and heating devices to clothing and accessories, PetConnection shares the best ways you can help your pets in cold weather.
How Does Cold Weather Affect Dogs?
The holiday season is here, and it came with cold weather. I admit that this is my favorite time of year, but it causes new or re-emerging problems to arise for some of my patients. Cold weather can affect your dog in many ways:
- Osteoarthritis: Dogs are just like humans. They can develop arthritis. Although it typically happens in older dogs, arthritis can develop in dogs of any age. Cold weather can worsen arthritis, causing your dog to have trouble jumping, walking, sitting, or standing. It can also cause restlessness, even when sleeping.
- Swollen and cracked paws: The cold climate and other factors, like salt used for deicing roads, can affect your dog’s paws to become swollen and cracked. This can lead to an infection as dogs will lick their paws to ease the discomfort and pain.
- Weight gain: Sometimes, the cold climate prevents typical exercise for dogs, like walks, mainly in areas with a lot of snow. If dogs have less exercise but still keep the same caloric intake, there is usually weight gain. Unfortunately, unwanted weight gain can lead to other problems such as developing diseases like diabetes mellitus or worsening osteoarthritis.
- Anxiety: If your dog loves exercises like swimming or hiking that are no longer possible to them due to inclement wintertime weather, frustration and anxiety can start to show.
- Frostbite: Dogs that go out into cold weather and are not suitably clothed can get damaged skin or frostbite and other tissues. Dogs with short coats (or hairless) are especially sensitive to cold weather versus those with thick coats.
- Hypothermia: Cold climate can cause very low body warmth or hypothermia. This can lead to trouble breathing, decreased blood flow, even a coma.
Can Dogs Handle Cold Temperature Better Than Humans?
The answer to this question is it depends. Some dogs appear to be built for cold weather – they have thick fur, large paws, and a great undercoat that keeps them heated and repels water. For the most part, these dogs don’t require a lot of cold-weather clothing or booties and often love nothing more than playing in the snow. In other words, these dogs handle cold climates better than humans, but that doesn’t mean that all dogs can.
Is It Safe To Take Dogs For A Walk In The Snow And How Long Can They Stay Outside?
Yes, it is harmless for dogs to walk in the snow. However, if your dog is going to walk in the snow for an extended period, they should have proper cold-weather clothing. Shoes will preserve their paws from the cold, and other possible annoyances like deicing salt and jackets will give them an extra layer of heat, especially those with short or no hair.
How To Know When Pets In Cold Weather Should Wear A Coat?
There are many signs to look out for if your dog is feeling cold. Pets in cold weather can be seen shaking or having trouble breathing, often taking shallow breaths. They may also seem tired, their muscles may seem solid, and their skin can look pale. If your dog displays any of these symptoms while they’re outside or if you think they will, it’s strongly advised that you get them a winter coat.
When picking a winter coat for your dog, make sure that it is the precise size to avoid causing general discomfort or restricting their breathing. Review the company’s sizing guide or reach out to their customer support team if you’re unsure which size to get.
Why Dogs’ Paws Irritate When Snowing And What To Do To Combat It?
Pets in cold weather may be sensitive. Sometimes ice forms between the toes and around the paws leading to abrasions or irritation. Additionally, your dog’s paws may be irritated from other chemicals blended in with the snow, like deicing salts.
To avoid these problems, make sure your dog is wearing the correct size booties. If your dog walks in the snow without booties, make sure to clean the paws afterward with a towel and keep the time outside as quickly as possible.
Do Dogs Need Blankets?
Blankets are excellent for pets in cold weather for a little extra warmness. Overall the need is determined by the temperature in their environment. All dogs can profit from blankets in some way or another. For example, snuggle together under one while watching their preferred winter movie!
How Can I Provide Extra Warmth To My Dog While In The House?
If you think your dog needs more warmth, there are a several things you can do to make them more comfortable:
- Personal space heater: Carefully place a space heater in the area your dog prefers to rest – just make sure that it’s a safe model for dogs and will not cause thermal burns if they touch it. Adjust the settings as needed for your dog to be comfortable, but if the heat is too high, dogs will typically simply remove themselves from the heat source unless they are physically incapable to.
- Heating pad: Although electric blankets or heating pads are helpful, they can also be dangerous. It is very easy for dogs to get thermal burns from heating pads, so always be careful. Make sure your dog does not have a direct touch with the pad. Always put many layers of blankets on top of the heating pad before introducing it to your dog.
- Fireplace: Use a fireplace if you have one, especially if it is placed in a family area of the home. This way, your dog can cozy up to the heat and still have a watchful eye on its family.
Have questions that our article didn’t cover? Speak to our veterinary team! They’ll be able to help answer any of your cold-weather inquiries.