It’s fine if dogs stay outside from time to time when the weather is fair, but leaving them outdoors in the winter can pose serious health risks.
As pet parents, you probably already know that leaving a dog unattended inside of a hot car is detrimental to their health. However, you may not be too aware of the risks associated with leaving your pooch out in the cold for too long.
We recommend never letting your dog sleep alone outdoors during the winter.
Continue reading today’s blog to find out the ways in which freezing temperatures can impact your best friend’s health.
Why Shouldn’t Dogs Stay Outside in the Winter?
Unfortunately, some pet owners argue that dogs are resistant to winter weather because they’re accustomed to spending time outdoors and other wild creatures have adapted to the snow. Some of them may even toss a blanket into their pet’s dog house and think they’re doing enough to keep their pet warm and safe. However, Dr. Ernie Ward, a critically-acclaimed veterinarian, would beg to differ.
Dr. Ward is so dedicated to making pet owners understand that they shouldn’t let their pet sleep outdoors in the winter, he decided to stay inside a dog house in freezing temperatures! He dressed up in a thick winter coat, gloves, hat, and other cold winter gear and crawled inside a dog house during a frigid night. The result? He only lasted four hours inside the dog house because he couldn’t stand the unforgiving cold.
Dr. Ward discovered that it took less than 30 minutes for the temperatures inside the dog shelter to drop to under 20 degrees Fahrenheit. Even with all those extra layers, his fingers and toes still became cold and numb. By the time his four hours came to an end, the dog house was now at 15 degrees, and he was uncontrollably shivering. If a human who’s all bundled up for winter can’t withstand these temperatures, a dog, who would be less covered up, certainly can’t.
Now, you may be thinking that the reason Dr. Ward couldn’t withstand the arctic climate is because humans aren’t equipped to survive these temperatures like a dog can. However, he claims that no dog is biologically equipped to handle freezing temperatures. Much like humans, household pets can develop frostbite and hypothermia.
The American Veterinary Medical Association states:
“Longer-haired and thick-coated dog breeds, such as huskies and other dogs bred for colder climates, are more tolerant of cold weather; but no pet should be left outside for long periods of time in below-freezing weather.”
Simply put: if it’s too cold for humans to stay outside in the middle of winter, then it’s too cold for our four-legged friends (if not even colder). There are many preventative measures we can take to protect our furry friends this winter.
Top 5 Tips to Keep Your Dog Healthy This Winter
1. Know Your Pup’s Limits
Oh, if only our pets could talk! As a pet parent, you must be in tune with your dog’s needs and wants. Much like humans, a dog’s tolerance to the cold can vary from dog to dog based on factors such as their coat, activity level, body fat stores, and general health. For starters, you’ll probably need to walk your dog less on cold days to protect them from weather-associated risks.
Elderly pets and those with disabilities, such as Arthritis, may have a challenging time walking on snow or ice, causing them to slip. Although long-haired and thick-coated dogs are more tolerant to cold weather, they’re still at risk for frostbite. Furthermore, short-haired pets may feel the cold faster because they have less protection, and those with short legs, such as Dachshunds, become cold faster because their bellies are more likely to come in contact with the snow.
2. Check Your Dog’s Paws
Inspect your dog’s paws every day during the winter for signs of cold-weather injuries, such as cracked paw pads or bleeding. If you notice your dog halting during a walk, it may be due to an injury or ice accumulation between their toes. Since you can’t entirely avoid walking your dog during the winter, we recommend clipping the hairs in between your dog’s toes to prevent iceball accumulation. It may be best to leave this job to a veterinarian so that you don’t over-clip.
3. Play Doggy Dress Up
Does your pup have a short coat? You may need to shop for a dog sweater or coat if your fur baby doesn’t already own one. Ideally, it’s best to have a small wardrobe of dog clothes so that your dog can have a clean, dry sweater each time they go outside. For example, if you take your pooch out for a winter stroll on a Monday and use the same wet dog coat for them on a Tuesday, they may become even colder due to trapped moisture.
It may even be a good idea to get your fur baby a pair of winter booties for their snowy trecks, just make sure they’re a perfect fit!
4. Wipe Your Dog Down
This may sound silly, but it’s essential to wipe your pup down after each winter walk. Sadly, they may pick up deicers, traces of antifreeze, or other chemicals that can be detrimental to their health. Once you arrive home, you should wipe down or wash your dog’s legs, paws, and belly to remove harmful chemicals and avoid poisoning. Remember, dogs love bathing themselves by licking, and we need to ensure that they’re not licking toxic chemicals off their fur.
5. Give Your Dog Multivitamins
That’s right, you read that correctly—dog multivitamins exist. Although dogs don’t have a flu season like we do, they’re still vulnerable to the canine flu and several other respiratory diseases. A healthy immune system is your pup’s first line of defense against conditions like these, as well as fungal, bacterial, and viral infections. The best dog multivitamins are packed with vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that promote a healthy fur coat, protect their joints and heart, and enhance digestive and immune function.
Plush Paws Products Offers the Best Dog Multivitamins
Although we shouldn’t let our dogs stay outside during the cold months, we can still take them out on frequent walks. The key is to keep their immune system and fur coats healthy so that they don’t fall ill to dog diseases. Plush Paws Products offers the best complete, daily dog multivitamins for dogs of any size and breed. They can help eliminate itchy skin and boost your pup’s immune system, thanks to their organic fish oil and digestive probiotic enzyimes.
Check out the rest of our premium selection of dog-friendly products here!