It may surprise you to know that it can get quite cold here in Hawaii. We even have places where it snows. The great thing is; all we have to do is drive about 15 minutes and it will be beach weather. Since our home gets very nippy (by our standards) it’s imperative that we make sure our pets stay warm and free from injury that can be cause by the weather.
How to Care for Dogs in Cold Weather
Unless you have a Siberian Husky or Alaskan Malamute, your dog likely looks forward to the frigid temperatures about as much as you do. Some dogs, especially small breeds, simply cannot handle sub-freezing temperatures. How should you care for your dog when the temperature drops? How cold is too cold for your dog? Are dog jackets necessary? Here are some tips for caring for your pup when the snow starts to fall or in our case the temperatures drastically change.
If your dog lives primarily outside, you must provide him or her with adequate shelter from the cold and wind, as well as a water source that will not freeze. An insulated dog house with four walls is a necessity, as well as a heated dog bowl or running water. Never use metal bowls for outside dogs in the winter, as a dog’s tongue may freeze to the bowl. You should also increase your dog’s caloric intake by up to 35%, as it takes more energy to stay warm in cold weather. During extreme cold snaps, bring your dog inside.
For indoor dogs, winter is a great time for the fashionista in your pup to show through. If you have a small dog or short-haired breed, consider investing in a sweater or jacket for your pet, especially for use during walks or potty breaks. If your dog has sensitive paws, boots or socks can help protect his or her feet from discomfort. Specialty dog stores also sell salves and lotions that can be applied as an extra level of protection during outdoor activities. You should wipe paws after long walks to remove any salt residue that may damage paw pads or irritate mouths, should the dog lick his paws after coming inside. Specially formulated ice-melt that is safe for pet paws is also available.Be aware that antifreeze is a top pet-poison during the winter months. Animals are attracted to its sweet scent and taste, yet antifreeze is highly toxic. Avoid letting your dog lap up unknown substances outside, and wipe away any spills when performing car maintenance. Consider switching to a pet-friendly formulation, one that uses propylene glycol as a main ingredient. If you suspect your dog may have ingested antifreeze of any kind, immediately consult a veterinarian.
No matter the temperature, wind chills can quickly cause frostbite on a dog’s sensitive, unprotected areas such as paws, nose, and ears. How cold is too cold for your pet? Tufts University provides the following guidelines: A toy breed should never be outside for prolonged activity if the wind chill is colder than 20o. If wet weather is present, extreme caution should be taken in temperatures 40o and below. For medium and large-sized dogs, a wind chill of 10o is too cold. In wet weather, temperatures in the 15 – 25o range may be harmful. A caveat, however, is that each dog is different and dogs already acclimated to the cold, or from northern breeds, may be able to withstand the cold better than their small or short-haired cousins.
How do you care for your pets in the colder months? If you have any tips on How to Care for Dogs in Cold Weather we’d sure love to hear them!