Dogs in Cold Weather

Shared by SAR Dog News


Dogs have varying degrees of tolerance when it comes to temperature extremes.  Even the hardiest breeds are susceptible to hypothermia and frostbite.  Hypothermia depressed temperatures can affect the normal function of the central nervous system (brain), as well as the dog’s ability to effectively circulate blood and oxygen.  This impaired ability to circulate blood and thus deliver heat to the outside edges of the body, as well as other factors, can contribute to the development of frostbite.    K-9s can die from hypothermia and those that suffer from frostbite will deal with pain and may lose affected body parts.  Fortunately these two can easily be avoided by taking some precautions:

Although all dogs are at risk in the cold weather, some are better equipped to handle it than others.  Huskies and other breeds from cold climates are certainly going to be more comfortable than other dogs, such as the Greyhound, when journeying through a snow.  Also consider that old, young, wet dogs or dogs with thinner coats are at a greater risk of getting hypothermia and/or frostbite.

Some medical conditions will worsen when it gets colder, one of the main ones being arthritis.  Arthritis might worsen in the cold months because of the direct effect of the cold which can cause increased stiffness, and because the cold frequently brings icy/slippery streets and sidewalks.   

This is also the time of year to be more aware of poisons such as antifreeze among others.

Antifreeze is a common cold weather poison but not the only one to be aware of:  road salt and rat poisons are also used more often at this time of year.  Even if you don’t use any of those products, an unsupervised K-9 could wander into a neighbor’s yard and find them.

Dogs may also lick their paws after a walk.  Every time you come inside with your dog, dry his feet thoroughly with a towel to be sure he has not tracked in any dangerous chemicals.  Also check him over for any injuries to the paws:  cracks, cuts, or scrapes.  These kinds of injuries can cause pain and lameness.  Be sure to use pet friendly deicing products on steps, walkways and driveways.

It’s important to groom carefully when taking care of your dog during the winter.  Taking too much hair off will mean he has less to keep him warm; leaving too much could lead to matted hair.  Ask your veterinarian or professional groomer how often grooming is recommended on your breed of dog.

Your dog will also need to eat more during the winter because it takes more energy to keep warm.  But don’t make the mistake of feeding too much as obesity carries health concerns of its own.

By following these precautions and seeking advice from your veterinarian, you can give your dog a safe and happy winter season. 

Source: pet,

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