Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind for when those winter months strike and you want to ensure your dog is safe and well taken care of.
Limit Your Dog’s Time Outdoors
Even the toughest of dogs aren’t meant to spend time outdoors in freezing temperatures. No matter how thick their coat is, your pet doesn’t have all the natural protection needed to stay safe when temperatures drop. Think of all the exposed and/or sensitive body parts on your dog—its ears, paws, and nose are all out there for the elements to affect. While some breeds can stay outside longer than others, you should be periodically checking your dog to ensure he or she is not experiencing any of the signs associated with frostbite, or simply uncomfortable.
Dress Your Pet Warmly
Smaller dogs and those dogs with short hair will need extra help staying warm in the winter months. Young and old dogs may also have trouble keeping themselves warm when it gets chilly. There are plenty of stores and online sites that offer sweaters or coats for canines that can help keep them warm when they most need it.
Adjust Their Diet if Necessary
Talk with your local veterinarian to see if an adjustment in your dog’s diet is necessary. In some cases, an increase in proteins or fats can help keep your pet’s coat healthy and therefore warmer. Make sure to consult with the proper sources before making any changes to your pet’s diet!
Invest in Heated Bowls
If your pet spends a lot of time outdoors or in an insulated dog house, make sure that they have plenty of food and water. Their water can freeze, which is why there are heated dog bowls available for purchase, so your dog can stay hydrated in the cold winter months.
Wipe Down Their Paws
Your dog’s paws are exposed to more toxins and chemicals than any other part of its body. Snow, ice, salt, and other toxic chemicals such as deicers or antifreeze can build up on your dog’s paws, causing painful cracks or even bleeding. There is also the possibility of your dog licking its paws and ingesting harmful chemicals such as antifreeze, which tastes sweet and can cause serious illness or even death. You can help prevent this by wiping your pet’s paws every time they come into the home and making sure to trim the fur between their toes.
Don’t Leave Your Pet in the Car
Just like in the summer, it’s never okay to leave an animal inside of a vehicle when extreme temperatures are present. The winter is no exception; temperatures are exacerbated and can quickly drop to match the temperatures of the outside cold.
Be Careful with Winter Appliances in the Home
We all want to stay warm in the winter, including your pets. However, some appliances such as space heaters and heated floor mats can reach extreme temperatures that are hot enough to burn your animal if they come in too close of contact with them. There is also the possibility that your dog tips over an appliance that could start a fire if left unattended.
Stay Knowledgeable on Warning Signs
It’s important for every pet owner to know the warning signs of frostbite and hypothermia. Dogs are most likely to experience symptoms of this in their paws, ears, and tail. Get your dog inside and contact your local veterinarian if you notice them displaying any of the following signs:
A gray, pale, or blueish discoloration of the affected area.
A cold or brittle feeling of the area when touched.
A painful reaction by your pet when the affected area is touched.
Blisters and/or skin ulcers.
Areas of dead or blackened skin.
Shivering/Trembling followed by no shivering.
Trouble breathing and/or walking.
Behavioral changes (i.e. drowsiness, lethargy, etc.).
Skin is cold to the touch.
A slowed heart rate.
Pale or blue gums and inner eyelids.
If you’re planning a trip or are going to be out of your home for an extended period of time and don’t want to leave your dog unattended, Club Fetch offers pet sitting services for the residents of Charlotte, NC. If you know you will be gone for longer, we also offer pet boarding services and overnight dog boarding. Make sure your furry friends are well taken care of during the cold winter months by entrusting them in our care at Club Fetch.