Dogs are wonderful pets for all seasons, but in winter, it's important to keep them happy and warm. Just like humans, dogs can suffer health problems from prolonged cold exposure. This article looks at ways to avoid such issues and keep your canine friend feeling their best.
To Keep Your Dog Warm, Take a Cue from Yourself
Though dogs have built-in fur coats, they are not immune to winter weather. Some dog breeds are more resistant to cold than others, but no dog is completely weatherproof. An easy rule of thumb to follow to keep your dog warm in winter is this: If it is too cold for you to be outside without a coat, it is also too cold for your dog. Consider buying a coat and/or boots for your dog, but even if you do, limit the time your dog spends outside in such conditions as much as possible.
Warning Signs of a Cold Dog
A dog feeling cold may exhibit certain warning signs. If you are outside with your dog, periodically check their ears and body. If they are cold, it is time to get your dog back indoors. As man's best friend, dogs may also exhibit human-like behavior when cold—that is, a shivering puppy in winter is a puppy that needs to get back inside.
Other behavioral changes may also be signs that your dog is too cold. A dog feeling distressed from the cold may whine, bark, or show other signs of agitation. Additionally, they may become sluggish and less playful, even curling up to preserve body heat if they are cold. Chilly dogs might also try to burrow for warmth.
Lethargy and sleepy behavior can be a sign of something more serious, such as hypothermia. Keep an eye out for such behaviors whenever you are outside with your dog, and if they arise, take your dog inside to warm them up. Go to the vet if the signs seem serious and/or persist.
Other Health Hazards
A dog feeling cold is not the only problem to watch out for in winter weather. Winter invites all kinds of toxic chemicals in the environment, so whenever your dog has spent time outside, wipe down their paws. That will help remove hazardous materials such as antifreeze and salt. Be extra careful about antifreeze because it is extremely toxic to dogs.
Also keep in mind that dogs should not be left alone in cars in cold weather, just like hot weather. Cars cool down very quickly, and your dog won't be able to warn you that something is wrong if you're not in the car.
Conclusion: Keep Your Dog Safe Inside
To recap, when it comes to dogs and puppies in winter, carefully watch out for warning signs that they are cold. Protective measures such as coats and boots can help, but when in doubt, keep your dog indoors. If you do find yourself outside with a dog that is showing signs of being cold, always err on the side of taking them in and warming them up.