Winter Care Tips for You and Your Pooch

November 29th, 2017 by The Clarkson Team

With the passing of the fall, comes the winter chill and snow. Although our pets have a coat of fur, it is a misconception that they can tolerate the cold better than we do. The cold weather conditions can sometimes lead to serious health risks for both you and your furry friends.

Frostbite is an injury caused by exposing parts of the body to extreme cold. When the body gets cold, it automatically draws blood from the extremities towards the centre of the body in order to stay warm. In doing so, your pet’s paws, ears and tail can get so cold that ice crystals can form in the tissue and damage can occur. If your pet is wet or damp, then they become even more vulnerable to frostbite.

SIGNS TO WATCH FOR

  • Discolouration of the skin – often pale white, grey or blue-ishCold Reminder
  • Coldness and or brittleness of the skin
  • Limping (if frostbite is on feet/toes)
  • Pain when touching the affected area
  • SEVERELY frostbitten skin will eventually turn black and slough off.

Hypothermia is another serious medical condition that can occur when your body temperature drops to dangerously low levels usually caused by prolonged exposure to cold temperatures. Symptoms vary with the level of severity. In mild conditions, your pet may start to shiver, and their ears and feet may grow cold.

SIGNS TO WATCH FOR

  • Weakness
  • Lack of mental alertness
  • Muscle stiffness and stupor-like state
  • Shallow and slow breathing

If you are noticing any of these symptoms, or if your pet stops playing and seems to be looking for places to burrow, then it is time to bring them in.

Ways To Protect Your Pooch This Winter

Day-Time Walkies
Try to walk your pet in the late morning or early afternoon hours when temperatures are a little warmer. AVOID early morning or late evening walks as temperatures can dip to extreme lows.

Bundle Up
Some breeds have thick fur that keeps them warm naturally, even in frigid temperatures, but dogs with thin coats would benefit significantly with a warm sweater or jacket when out for winter strolls.

Dog Warm Sweater

Rinse Those Paws
After taking your dog for a walk, remember to wipe or rinse off your pet’s paws. Winter salt on sidewalks can burn their paw pads and is also toxic. Washing off their feet prevents them from licking their paws and ingesting the salt. If your pet shows signs of discomfort when walking out on frozen or salted surfaces, consider using booties to protect their paws.

Supervise Play-Time
Playing in the snow can be great fun but be aware of unfamiliar areas. Keep your dog close at all times as they may venture off onto unsafe surfaces such as frozen lakes or ponds.

Cozy Critters
The right bedding is essential to ensure your pets stay warm this winter. Cushioned pet beds are perfect for keeping your dog off cold tiles or concrete, and warm blankets create a cozy place for your pet to rest after a long day. Place your pet’s bed in a favourite spot of theirs to sleep in your home away from high traffic areas and cold drafts.

Last but not least, cuddles with your canine friend is a great way to stay warm!

Cuddle With Your Dog

Sources
http://www.dogsnaturallymagazine.com/15-winter- care-tips- for-your- dog/
https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/frostbite-in-dogs
http://www.petmd.com/dog/conditions/cardiovascular/c_multi_hypothermia

Written by Natasha, CCR

About The Clarkson Team

Our caring, dedicated veterinary team has helped dogs, cats, and their families for over 27 years at the Clarkson Village Animal Hospital in Mississauga. We know how important your furry family members are – we’re pet lovers too!

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