The average body temperature of a dog is slightly higher than that of a human, ranging anywhere between 99.5 °F and 102.5 °F. Naturally, one would assume that dogs don’t feel very cold or that they won’t catch a common cold as seasons change. But that isn’t entirely true.
While some dog breeds are bred and naturally built to withstand cold temperatures, like Siberian Huskies or Tibetan Mastiffs, most other breeds have trouble staying warm during chilly winters.
Looking for winter pet safety tips? Check out these useful tricks to help you ease your dog into the colder parts of the year.
How To Care For Your Dog During Cold?
Summers are so much easier to manage since dogs shed a lot in the warmer months to keep up with climate change.
But what about winters?
Not every breed grows a thick, double coat in the winter months to stay insulated against harsh and icy temperatures. As a pet parent, your first instinct would be to put a sweater or jacket on your dog to keep it warm, but is this enough? Probably not.
If you have a dog that has a short-haired coat and a slender frame, or even a small breed dog like a Pug or a Daschand, you might want to take extra care of them during the colder months.
Here are a few winter pet safety tips that go a step beyond doggy sweaters and socks.
Clean Its paws
Since dogs rely on being on all fours to stay mobile, their paws are their biggest assets. In the winter, when it’s icy and snowing, your dog’s paws are exposed to sub-zero temperatures and are at risk of frostbites. Even after their short potty walks, spare a few minutes to clean and dry your dog’s paws.
Before winter sets in, trim your dog’s paw hair to prevent frostbites. After stepping into snow and ice, your dog’s paw pads remain damp and wet unless they’re dried off immediately. Failing to clean their paws could lead to other health problems like hypothermia, frostbites, and lung disorders.
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Keep It Leashed
When it’s freezing cold outside, the last thing you want is for your dog to wander off unprotected. While you may usually let your dog play around and stroll outside in the summer or spring months, you want to keep it leashed in the winter to protect it from the cold.
Dogs are also at risk of getting lost during winters. Constant snowfall and snow-covered paths can cover up all their smells. And when left unsupervised, dogs will aimlessly wander off, sniffing to find familiar scents. To avoid this, make sure your dog’s tethered indoors, where it is warm and safe.
Stay Away from Ice
Sheets of ice may look sturdy but they can be deceiving and dangerously thin. Any sudden movements like your dog running over it can cause it to crack, and since dogs are extremely susceptible to hypothermia, this is the kind of accident you want to protect your dog from.
Additionally, a dog’s paw pads are incredibly sensitive and soft. When exposed to hard and stone-cold ice, they tend to crack and become sore from the frost. That’s not all! A dog’s feet have a unique feature called a dewclaw. When exposed to excessive friction against ice, this claw can snap, break, and hurt your dog tremendously. So, if you’re wondering, “How can I protect my dog from cold weather,” keep it away from ice at all costs.
Provide A Warm Shelter
Dogs and extreme cold weather don’t make the best combination. Providing it with a warm, cozy, and comfortable shelter is the simplest way to keep your dog well-insulated at home. If your dog has a designated space for rest at home, layers of warm bedding, comfy cushions, and a thick blanket would be ideal.
If your dog is suffering from arthritis or joint pains, it may feel cold despite a fire or heater. Sometimes, even dog breeds with the best immunity shiver in the cold. To keep them balmy and tucked in, bundle them up in a few layers of thermals.
If your dog spends most of its time in its kennel, create enough heat and warmth in that space in the winter. Throw in a few toys and a bone to keep it busy and happy.
Leave It At Home
If your dog isn’t in the least bit comfortable with the cold, winter isn’t the best time for it to socialize and move about outdoors. No matter how many precautions you take to keep your dog warm, the chilly winds, snowfall, and ice-laden grounds can set your dog’s body temperature off.
Keep its walks short and avoid taking it with you outside to limit its exposure to bone-chilling weather conditions.
Do Dogs Like The Cold?
Even the exotic dog breeds that thrive in the cold look for ways to stay warm and insulated. Ever seen a Husky in cold weather? It prefers staying indoors or it will dig a den in the snow to hide in it till the cold winds pass.
This indicates that while some dogs can withstand the cold, they’d rather not be overly exposed to such vulnerable conditions.
Additionally, older dogs, those with medical conditions, and small breeds with short fur, tiny paws, and flat faces have a tougher time dealing with cold weather. Now, you’re probably thinking, “What happens if a dog gets too cold?”
Dogs that struggle to adapt to the cold can experience various concerns like frost blisters, sore joints, a leaky nose, itchy skin, chest congestion, watery eyes, and fever.
If you notice your dog feeling a bit under the weather and not looking as energetic and playful as usual, it’s probably the cold weather that’s getting to it. It’s time to take your dog indoors and pamper it with a warm meal and a thick, soft winter quilt.
How Cold Is Too Cold For A Dog?
If the temperatures outside are above 45°F, your dog will probably find it pleasant and enjoyable since it’s neither too cold nor too warm. Now, you’re probably wondering, “What temperature is too cold for my dog?”
If your dog isn’t double coated or is slender, you want to be wary of temperatures that fall below 45°F. Anything below 32°F is too cold for your dog.
Your dog’s body weight is another factor to consider when determining how cold is too cold for your dog. Dogs that have excess fat or at least a moderate amount of chubbiness stay insulated. Lean dogs with athletic body frames like Salukis and Dobermans can’t withstand extreme cold at all.
The best way to know whether your dog is well-suited for cold weather is to look out for signs of discomfort. If your dog is whining, whimpering, shivering, and curling up in the cold, you should adopt some of these winter pet safety tips to keep it warm and secure.
We hope you have enough information to help you and your dog feel better prepared this coming winter. You can also refer to these tips if you’re traveling to a cold place with your dog.