The idea of ââan “outside dog” tough enough to resist the icy grip of winteris a myth, animal experts say.
It’s just one of the dangers the season poses to man’s best friend.
“There is no one-size-fits-all temperature rule for all pets, but the best general rule is, if you’re too cold, your pet is too cold,” said Lori Bierbrier, senior medical director for ASPCA Community Medicine in New York City. “It’s best to only leave your dog out long enough to use the bathroom in severe winter weather.”
Different factors such as breed, age, coat, health and activity level can play a role, pet care experts say. But when the wind starts to whip or the mercury drops, it’s time to bring your pooch inside.
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What Are the Signs of Hypothermia in Dogs?
In frigid, snowy conditions, your dog faces the same problems as you: it is difficult to maintain body temperature in winter weather and there is a risk of hypothermia, or an abnormally low body temperature. is real.
“Hypothermia can range from mild to severe and lead to impaired consciousness and even death,” Bierbrier said in an email. Signs include “shivering, inactivity, pale skin, lethargy, muscle stiffness, shallow breathing, and fixed and dilated pupils.”
If a dog shows any of these signs, wrap them in a preheated blanket or place a hot water bottle on the outer layer of a blanket and call a vet.
Pet care experts recommend always keeping an eye on your dog when he’s outside. Never let him off the leash on snow or ice, especially during a snowstorm. More dogs are lost in winter than any other time of year, Bierbrier said. That’s because dogs can lose their noses and get lost more easily in winter weather, so make sure your dog always has their dog tag on.
How to avoid salt and ice burns for pets
Melting ice is another common hazard this time of year. It can cause chemical burns on its paws, so be sure to wipe a dog’s legs, feet, and abdomen thoroughly when it comes in after a walk in sleet, snow, or ice. This can prevent salt, antifreeze or other dangerous chemicals from being ingested, Bierbrier said.
Another pro tip: rubbing petroleum jelly into the pads of dogs’ paws before going outside will help protect them from salt and chemicals and keep them hydrated.
Be sure to remove these ice balls from your pet as soon as possible when you get home. They can cause frostbite, accordingly American humanity, an animal welfare group. Check the underside, ears, and tail for frozen skin that is pale or gray. Treat it by wrapping the area in a dry towel to gradually warm it up. Call a vet if you suspect frostbite.
American Humane recommends using non-toxic antifreeze and being careful of spilled antifreeze on walks. Keep in mind, the group said, that the chemical tastes sweet and it only takes a small amount to poison a dog.
Smaller dogs, those with shorter hair and less active animals are more susceptible and quicker to get cold.
Medium to large dog breeds like the Siberian Husky, Samoyed, and Malamute are better adapted to extreme cold because of their thick double coat. according to the American Kennel Club. As a result, when temperatures drop below 32 degrees Fahrenheit, they can stay outdoors longer, typically 30 minutes to an hour, the group said.
On the other hand, short-nosed puppies â including Bulldogs, Boxers, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Shih Tzus, and Pugs â are more sensitive to extreme weather conditions and should be kept indoors, especially when exercising.
According to the club, many states have laws prohibiting dogs from being left in the yard for more than half an hour in freezing temperatures. This is true in New Jersey, where a person cannot abandon a dog.adverse environmental conditions longer than 30 minutes,” says the Animal Law Legal Center.
Should You Bag Your Pup?
If your dog is short-haired, consider getting a coat or sweater with a high collar or turtleneck that goes from the base of the tail to the tummy, Bierbrier said.
âSome dogs benefit from a sweater or coat and/or booties when going outside in the winter. These can help retain body heat and prevent skin from becoming dry or inflamed,” she said. “Whether a dog needs a coat depends on many factors, including age, size, breed, and coat, so discuss your pet’s needs with a veterinarian.”
Dogs should always stay indoors during inclement weather, she added. If left outdoors, pets can freeze to death, become disoriented, or be injured or killed.
Being left in cars in the winter can be just as dangerous for dogs as they are in the summer heat, experts say. Being left in a vehicle at this time of year is like a fridge keeping the cold. Animals left alone can freeze to death.
Follow Gene Myers on Twitter: @myersgen