It’s going to be downright COLD around these parts – and many others – over the next few days, and we’ve yet to come close to the real peak of winter weather. And with the cold coming on so quickly, some of us might not be quite prepared to protect our pets. Not to worry! There’s still time to make sure your dog is warm and well cared for!
Staying warm is particularly important if your dog is mostly an “outside” type. Make sure they have a cozy, non-drafty place that’s tucked out of the wind. Make sure the shelter has plenty of clean, dry blankets, too. Even if your dog spends most of the time indoors, make sure tiled or hard surfaces they spend time on have a rug or blanket. Your dog will need plenty of food and water, too, since it takes more calories to keep warm. If possible, it’s always best to feed your dog indoors as food left outside can attract other critters, like raccoons, opossums, squirrels, etc.; some of which can carry diseases. Keep outside water fresh and topped off, and make certain it hasn’t frozen.
Short-haired breeds aren’t naturally equipped to weather the serious cold. (Ever seen a labrador at the Iditarod?) And while your pup may tolerate a turtleneck for the annual family picture, don’t be so sure you can pop a sweater over his head and send him outdoors unattended. Keep an eye on him to make sure he’s comfortable and won’t try to wriggle free, creating a risk for strangulation. And while your dog essentially walks around barefooted year round, extreme temperatures can hurt their footpads. Cold AND wet feet can freeze, and potentially lead to frostbite. Check their footpads regularly for drying and cracking. Tails, ears and noses are also areas to watch for frostbite.
Be extra careful when playing, walking or running with your dog in the cold weather. Slips on icy spots can be just as hazardous for them, too. And if roads or sidewalks have been salted, keep them in grassy areas and be sure to clean and check their feet since the salt can burn their footpads. If your dog is still very young, much older, or in less than perfect health, you’ll want to limit their exposure to cold weather. Remember that the windchill affects how the weather feels to your dog, too. Just because they want to play outside doesn’t always mean they should. If it feels too cold for you to be out there, it’s probably too cold for them, too.