Let’s talk preventative care……..
When a dog gets cold, the body automatically pulls blood from the extremities to the center of the body to keep warm. Dog’s ears, paws or tail can get so cold that ice crystals can form in the delicate tissues and cause severe damage. Unfortunately, frostbite is not immediately obvious, look for signs of pale gray skin, skin may turn hard or cold. As the frostbitten areas warm they can become painful, skin can also turn black and slough off.
Hypothermia can occur when a pet spends too much time in the cold, especially if it gets wet or is already in poor health. In mild cases, dogs may shiver and ears and paws may grow cold. As Hypothermia progresses, signs of depression, lethargy and weakness may become prevalent. As this worsens, muscles may get stiff, heart and breathing rates will slow and responses will become null. Some states and counties have passed regulations that leaving a pet outside when temps fall to a certain degree, is unlawful and neglectful. Bring your pet inside!
11 Tips and ideas to consider during the winter months
- If your dog has a thin coat, put on a sweater that protects from the neck to the base of the tail and protects the belly. Keep in mind this is not protecting ears, paws or tail.
- Change your walking or play schedule. Walk or play when the sun is shining. Sunshine is not only for warmth, it gives both you and your pet valuable Vitamin D.
- Limit outdoor time, shorter more frequent outings are better than long exposed outings.
- Providing warm bedding for your pet is vital to staying warm. Sleeping on cold concrete or tiles can cause stiffness to joints and obvious cold.
- Dogs will seek heat when cold, keep them from getting to close to heat sources. Space heaters and baseboard heat can cause burns. If you use a fireplace make sure you have a pet proof system to keep your pet out of harms way.
- Just as humans, the extra heat we seek during winter, causes skin to be dry. Dogs skin needs extra moisturizing during the winter months. You can add a supplement to their food, you can also have your groomer use a conditioner on their coat. Coconut oil is an amazing natural moisturizer.
- Do not overfeed. Your dog may not be as active during the winter months due to shorten play times and outings. They do not need an extra layer of fat to keep them warm.
- Keep your pet hydrated during winter months, eating snow is Not a substitute water supply.
- Groom your dog during winter months is important. A well groom coat will keep them properly insulated. A groomer can ensure your dog is fully dry before being exposed to the elements.
- Caring for the paws of dogs is so important. If your dog grows fur between its pads, it needs trimmed out. Ice builds on the hair between the pads and can cause discomfort and possible frostbite. Winter salt can burn your dog’s pads and can be toxic. Rinse your dogs paws after walks so they don’t lick the salt. Try booties for the paws if they have trouble walking during these cold months.
- When snow falls and we shovel and plow, make sure it is not in a position that your dog can use it to get over fences and gates.
Extra steps and care during the winter months can be frustrating at times, but it can also make it an enjoyable season for you and your pet.