Pet Safety for Snow Weather
Brrrr, it’s cold out! As much as we want to bring our dogs out during winter months, there are several precautions of which we want you to be aware of, particularly as weather reports a “bomb cyclone” coming to much of the United States.
Slightly warmer than humans, a dog’s body temperature ranges from 99.5 - 102.5°, and anything below can lead to hypothermia. Depending on the severity, low body temperatures can affect their cardiovascular and respiratory systems which lead to shivering, difficulty breathing, loss of body heat, and weakness.
Here are some ways you can prepare your dog for the snow or cold:
- It’s sweater weather! Small dogs with short coats are more sensitive to cold weather. Layer them up with a sweater or rain coat to keep them warm outdoors. Be sure it fits comfortably on them - not too small or large.
- Booties. Not only do booties keep their paws warm, they also add extra protection underneath and prevents them from stepping on any sharp objects. It may take a while for your dog to adjust to, but allow them to practice walking in them before stepping outside. It might look uncomfortable at first, so don’t forget to reward them with treats after putting them on.
- Exercise beforehand. Before heading on it the cold, get their blood circulating by playing a game of catch or fetch. This is a great way to keep their blood flow running and preparing their bodies for colder temperatures.
- Snow should not be eaten! Some dogs are very curious and love chewing on anything they can find. You never know what toxic chemicals are hidden beneath the snow. Rock salt is a common antifreeze during the winter months, so if you find your dogs eating snow, stop them.
- Limit the time outdoors. As temperatures decrease, taking our dogs out for long walks don’t seem to be ideal during the winter months. Some dogs can withstand cold weather better than others depending on size and breed. If they are wrapped in layers and still shivering, your best bet is to bring them indoors away from the cold.
- Wipe their paws. Before coming back inside, be sure to use a clean towel to wipe off their feet. If the fur under their feet is still wet, it can keep them cold.
- Balms. To prevent their paws from cracking or being irritated from extreme temperatures, moisturize their paws with a balm or petroleum jelly after walks. This prevents damage to their paws if they accidentally walk over salt or harsh chemicals from the snow. This can help aid infections and prevent dry, cracked paws.
- Keep them dry. After a nice day of playing outdoors, bring them indoors to get their body temperatures back to normal. Turn on the heater to keep the your home warm. If your dogs get too wet from the snow, use a blow dryer at a low temperature setting to warm them up. Do not use the blow dryer too close to their coat because it can overheat or burn them.
If your dog shows any signs of hypothermia, be sure to use a rectal thermometer to check their temperature. If the temperature is below 99.5°F, take your dog to your local pet hospital for veterinary care.