The holiday season is in full effect which means cozying up by the fire with our fur babies, family fun and colder weather. While some dog breeds with thick fur coats can be out in the snow there are still some precautions you should take. Small dogs and those used to being indoors most of the time should take extra precaution during walks in the colder season.
The 2 biggest risks during cold months are hypothermia and frostbite.
Hypothermia occurs when a dog spends too much time in the cold, has poor health or circulation and can't fight off an infection, or gets wet in cold temperatures. In mild cases, a dog will shiver and feet and ears become very cold. You must take your dog inside and warm them up by wrapping him in a blanket. Severe hypothermia is life-threatening as muscles stiffen, heart and breathing rates slow down as the condition worsens.
Frostbite begins when a dog’s body gets cold. The body pulls blood from the extremities to the center of the body to stay warm. The dog’s ears, paws or tail can get so cold that ice crystals will form in the tissue and damage it. Frostbite is not immediately obvious. Watch for signs of pale or grey skin as the skin may also turn hard and cold. As frostbitten areas warm, they can be extremely painful. Severely frostbitten skin will eventually turn black and fall off if left untreated.
You should never leave a dog alone in a car. When it's cold outside the car can act as a refrigerator and pets can freeze to death. If your dog has thinner fur or a smaller breed, a warm sweater or coat will be enough for walks and around the house. When taking walks outside, it may be best to put on protective booties to keep sensitive paws safe.
Another option is to rub petroleum jelly or other paw protectants into paw pads before going outside to help protect from salt and chemical agents. While booties provide even more coverage and can also prevent sand and salt from getting lodged between bare toes and causing irritation.
Our dogs love coconut oil! We rub it on their paw pads and also feed them a spoonful for daily health benefits. Moisturizing with coconut oil is a great natural way to keep paw padding soft and hydrated as the cold can cause the skin to crack. Keep your heated home humidified, going back and forth from cold to hot can cause flaky, itchy skin. Pat your dog down if coming in from the snow with a towel and wipe snow away from in between toes to prevent hypothermia.
Enjoy the cold weather and cozy up with a good book, tea, and your loving dog. Flea Away makes the perfect stocking stuffer!