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Winter Woes: Keeping Your Dog Safe and Warm in the Chilly Months

Updated: Jun 27

Well, it is already nearly the end of May and the winter weather has definitely crept in. Winter can be very cold in our area - often below zero - which means staying inside when its cold and/or wet and rugging up when we are outside.


Dog in the snow

The same should be considered for our dogs.

While most dog breeds have fur, some breeds will have been bred to live and work in cold weather (e.g. Huskies, Malamutes) so they will have thicker coats to protect them. Other breeds with low body fat like greyhounds and whippets will be more susceptible to the cold weather. Older dogs, puppies and dogs with health concerns will also be more likely to feel the cold and can be susceptible to hypothermia. 

 

Hypothermia is a potentially life threatening condition that affects dogs when their body temperature drops to dangerous levels.

 

Symptoms can range from shivering, lack of coordination and confusion in mild cases to breathing problems, dilated pupils, irregular heartbeat and collapse in more severe cases. Any changes in behaviour should be referred directly to your Veterinarian. (ref. https://www.petmd.com/dog/conditions/cardiovascular/dog-hypothermia

There are lots of things we can do to support our dogs through our cold winters: 

  • Provide your dog with a warm, comfortable bed away from draughts and off hard cold floors. Trampoline beds can be a good option to get dogs off the ground with a soft blanket.  Calming beds are great for dogs to snuggle into as they wrap around the dog's body and keep them warm

  • Microwavable heat discs and heat pads can be helpful to warm dogs up. It is important however that they have the option to get up and move away from them if they start to feel too warm

  • Provide free access to fresh water both inside and outside at all times. I find my dogs drink more in winter with fire and heaters on

  • Older dogs, puppies and compromised dogs can benefit from a warm coat that covers the belly during extreme weather. Waterproof is ideal if dogs are heading out for a walk and/or outside

  • Provide an insulated dog kennel with blankets and a warm bed when dogs are living outside. Preferably off the ground in a protected area

  • Dogs may use more energy to keep themselves warm during winter so monitor body condition and feed more if necessary

  • Colder weather may bring on more obvious signs of arthritis and joint pain in ageing dogs like limping, difficulty in rising after lying down for long periods, and slower movements. Providing non-slip matting on floors can be a big help, as well as joint supplements. It’s even more important to keep up our Vet visits as dogs age for advice on any pharmaceutical support they may need as well

 

Winter is the best time to snuggle up with the ones we love (us dogs, of course). Stay safe and warm, everyone! 

Cheers, Memphis

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