Extreme Weather Tips For Your Pup

dynamic, cold, weather - By Staff Writer on Friday, December 31, 2010 - 13:10

In light of the recent snowpocalypse that hit the east coast we thought it would be a good time to address some concerns for your dog in extreme weather conditions.  Since it is heating up a bit, now is the perfect time to prepare for the next big storm. 

Extreme Cold
When the temperature dips or the wind is kicking up, you need to make sure your dog is protected.  Breeds like the Malamute or Siberian Husky are particularly prepped for cold weather with their thick dense coats.  However, most other breeds are not.  If you have a breed with short hair or a very small dog that just doesn't tolerate cold, you need to be careful.  Get a coat or a sweater for extra layers when going out and take the dog out only for short potty breaks.  Once your pup has done his business head back in.  If your dog is high energy you can find a doggy gym that will allow your dog to play inside and get all the energy out without being exposed, or you could just do a few laps up and down a hallway or staircase.

Water Availability
Even if your dog loves the cold and can tolerate staying out or is in a heated/wind protected dog house, you need to make sure water is available.  A dog can become very dehydrated without water available and when temperatures dip the bowl can freeze solid.  You can find heated bowls or make sure the water bowl is located inside in a warm area.

Salt, ice and Antifreeze
Dog boots might look silly but they are a good idea in urban areas, dogs going distances outside or for dogs with sensitive paws.  If a dog is not used to cold weather the ice and snow can hurt their feet.  If you are in an urban area, most cities use salt to deice the streets and walkways.  The salt can burn paws and even cut them if the chunks are not dissolved yet.  This salt can contain impurities that should not be digested (while it comes from the same salt mines as the salt we eat, it is not purified and can contain rocks and even explosive residue from the mining process).  This combined with antifreeze can get your pup sick if they lick their paws.  Boots will keep the feet clean and dry so less mess on the floors and healthier pups.  If you are traveling distance in snow or ice your pup will definitely need some boots.   Even the Iditarod dogs wear boots to protect their paws. 

Even dogs can get frostbite.  Breeds with short hair or no hair are most susceptible but other breeds with longer fur can get it as well.  The length of time in the cold and snow will determine the severity, but you should check your dog if she has been out for long periods of time and you should make sure she has ample shelter and warmth in extreme cold.

Extra Protein
For dogs out in the cold exercising, make sure you provide some extra protein in their diet.  Long runs or workouts in the cold means harder work for your dogs body, and while many dogs are built for this, adding some extra protein for those that don't get a chance to do this often will help keep your pup healthy.   Protein will help fuel their muscles for long runs in the snow or pulling a sled so keep your pup in top shape by upping the protein for a while.  Your dog will likely love you if you toss a few steaks or pieces of chicken her way after a great day in the cold.

Many of the problems we face in extreme weather will effect your dog.  If you have a breed that is meant to weather the cold make sure your pup is used to it.  Even if they have a thick coat if their body has acclimatized to the warm and toasty house, you might need to think about a coat!

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