When it comes to cold weather and dogs, put yourself in your buddy’s position. Would you want to be outside for a long period of time?
If you’re questioning whether it’s too cold for him, it probably is.
There are many dangers for dogs outside but especially in severe weather.
Snow melting chemicals, poisonous substances, (anti-freeze) sliding cars, other animals AND humans, just to name a few.
Today, many people choose to keep their 4-legged family members inside, which I think is GREAT.
Once the weather breaks dogs can get rid of all their pent up winter energy. Just remember that even if you have a fenced in yard, mistakes happen. Pets can get out and mean people can get in so make sure you know what they are up to at all times.
And never leave them outside when you are not home.
Cold Weather and Dogs
The American Veterinary Medical Association, or AVMA, recommends all dogs live indoors.
Your dog has fur which helps to keep him warm however that does not mean he can stay outside for long periods of time in cold or frigid temperatures. A good thing to remember is if it’s too cold for you, it’s too cold for him. ♥
Preventing Weather From Hurting Your Dog-
Cold weather can cause dry flaky skin, cracked paws and an unhappy pet . Here are a few tips to keep your dog healthy during the winter months.
- When your dog comes in from being outside, make sure to dry him fully with a towel. Take special care to get all the snow and salt out of his toes and paw pads. Chemicals used on the roads to melt snow not only cause skin issues but can be dangerous if he licks them off his feet.
- Do not cut your dog’s hair or shave him during the winter months. Let his “winter coat” grow in.
- Because pets burn extra energy trying to stay warm in the winter, feel free to feed him a bit more then you normally would.
- The ASPCA recommends applying a bit of petroleum jelly to your dog’s paw pads to block salt and other chemicals from getting in his feet and mouth. This also helps to keep his pads from splitting.
- Make sure to take him for routine vet check-ups.
What to Watch Out For-
Keep in mind that dogs CAN freeze to death outside, just like you can.
Hypothermia is a deadly condition that causes depression in the central nervous system and affects the cardiovascular and respiratory systems. It is when an animal (or person) can not control their body temperature.
All dogs can suffer from hypothermia when left out in cold weather however shorter hair breeds, like Pit Bulls, Labs, Beagles and Greyhounds, are more susceptible. There are 3 levels- mild, moderate, and severe.
Hypothermia- What Happens
- Lack of coordination
- Muscle stiffness
- Low blood pressure
- Shallow and slow breathing
- Dilated pupils
- Inability to breathe
If you see these signs in your dog, get him to the vet right away.
Tips For Dogs Who Are Outside More Than Normal-
- Have regular vet checkups. If your dog has diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, or other medical problems, he can have a harder time regulating his body temperature. Cold weather also wreaks havoc on senior dogs or those with arthritis. Your vet may be able to prescribe medication to make these months easier.
- Make sure he has good shelter from wind, rain and snow. (And sun in hotter months) His house should be off the ground, well insulated, with straw on the floor. His door should be easily accessible AND strong enough to block all weather from getting in. It should be big enough for him to turn around in but not so big that he can’t stay warm.
- Always have clean water available. Remember that water will freeze so you will have to check his bowls multiple times a day.
- Even if the temperature doesn’t seem that cold, the wind chill can be. Make sure he wears a coat or sweater that fits him correctly.
- Dog Shoes/Boots- It may be hard to keep them on however having something on your dogs feet can go a long way in stopping any possible injuries due to snow, ice, water, etc.
- Your dog should wear an appropriate sized collar with tags at all times. Check out my article about GPS dog tracking collars to see if they would be a good idea for you and your buddy.
If you see an animal left out in the cold for too long, let the owner know the risks, in a nice way. Keep in mind that they might not understand the dangers their pets face outside in cold weather.
If they are not receptive or choose to ignore you, contact your anti-cruelty organization, local humane society or police department.
ASPCA has information on this as well.
As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please leave me a comment below! 🙂