Cold Weather Danger
Apple Valley Veterinarians is pleased to offer another guest blog by Jessica Brody. Her interest in presenting well researched and useful information from a layman’ point of view is very much appreciated. We hope our readers enjoy her work as much as we do!
Cold Weather Isn’t Just Dangerous For Your Health, Your Pup is Vulnerable Too
The winter season brings with it, for most regions, frigid temperatures that put our health at risk. Too often we think that our dog’s fur coats are enough to keep them safe from any winter harm, but that’s not always true. As responsible owners, we should take steps to make sure our dog remains healthy even when the temperatures go below freezing.
Check with the Vet
As the Pet Health Network advises, take your dog in for a checkup before the coldest of the cold season arrives. Particularly for animals with known medical conditions, this can help provide info that may alleviate symptoms brought on by cold weather. Dogs Naturally Magazine adds that our canines can be vulnerable to the same winter-related illnesses and ailments that humans are: hypothermia, frostbite, pneumonia, etc. Again, that fur is not a catch-all for the damage that winter does to our immunities.
See if your local veterinarian has any special recommendations as far as medications, nutraceuticals, or other precautions that could help your dog stay healthy and happy throughout the winter season. In particular, ask them about special measures you can take to help prevent your pup from catching nasty illnesses such as CIRD, Canine Respiratory Disease Complex, and, less commonly, H3N2 and H3N8 (aka dog flu.)
Know Your Dog
Each dog is different. Some were bred to bear the winters of Siberia and can pull a sled for miles-on-miles in the bitterest of conditions. Other breeds have thin layers that barely qualify as fur. Consequently, each breed is going to have different susceptibilities to winter-related illness.
The American Veterinary Medical Association points out that short-haired, elderly, and arthritic dogs should be taken on only limited walks, and should be treated to as much indoor exercise as possible to limit their exposure.
Play is Great, But Dry Play is Even Better
Dogs are bound to need to get outside at some point. For those in the north, this may inevitably mean exposure to snow. While the protective undercoat of Siberian Huskies or Saint Bernards keeps moisture away from the skin, a Boston Terrier immersed in melting snow might see its chances of getting sick skyrocket. Even for cold weather dogs, moisture from snow packed between foot pads can lead to painful dermatologic problems.
Dr. Deborah C. Mandell told NPR that bunnies who were exposed to the cold experienced gastrointestinal stasis. Dogs may not be immune to this either. Leaving dogs in cold spaces for long periods of time – such as basements – at the very least is uncomfortable and for some dogs can be as dangerous as letting them run around with ice-cold water sopping from their fur. It’s important to keep dogs near you, by the furnace or fireplace, unless they show you they prefer the cooler areas. This is one of the best ways to ensure they stay healthy, despite the surrounding frigidity.
With increased indoor time, your dog may explore spots he doesn’t normally explore to keep himself occupied. It would be best to dog-proof every inch of your home to ensure his indoor safety, with or without your watchful eye.
We love our dogs, and for many of us, it is difficult to imagine life without them around. As long as we are willing to do what is necessary in order to protect them from the winter elements, we can look forward to many more winters spent cuddling our furry best friend. Depending on the breed, age, and other characteristics of your dog, act accordingly. But, without exception, take your dog to the vet before the winter comes, just to be safe.