*IF IT'S NOT COLD WHERE YOU ARE NOW, WHICH IS MOST PLACES, JUST TAG THIS INFORMATION FOR LATER USE*
So, it MAY seem a little odd for a Florida-based pet photography blog to be discussing extreme cold weather…. BUT it's cold somewhere -- and if you can't use this information now, tag it for use this winter!
STARTING OFF ON THE RIGHT PAW
Much of the comfort of your doggo will depend on the weather conditions and how prepared (or unprepared) you are to make your dog as comfortable as possible. Extreme heat, as well as cold, both can affect your dog’s comfort level.
Since there are still areas in North America right now with snow on the ground (yikes!), let’s start with keeping your dog comfortable on walks in cold and wet.
The positive with colder weather is that overheating is not going to be a problem for your pupper, nor are burned paws. Cold weather, however, brings its own challenges.
Frost bite can happen with any breed/mix of dog but those with thin, short coats can be at even heightened risk.
Frost bite occurs when the outside temperature falls below 32◦F (0◦C). The dog’s skin and other tissues react by constricting blood vessels to keep the dog’s core body temperature higher. As the dog gets colder, her body will reduce blow flow to extremities. Eventually, the tissues in these areas can become frozen.
The areas of a dog most likely to become frost bitten are paws, ears and tail. The chance of frostbite increases if a dog is wet or damp (and trying to keep her body temperature from lowering dangerously/hypothermia).
HOW TO PREVENT FROST BITE
Keeping the Body Core Warm and Dry
SUIT UP: If it is cold and raining (and your dog is not a breed that naturally has a foul weather coat, such as a lab or husky), have your dog wear a rain jacket. One of my absolute favorites is the Nautical Reflective Raincosold by our friends at PAWS PET BOUTIQUE in Naples, Florida.
Another place with a nice selection of rain jackets is Lands’ End. You can find their current selection here: LANDS' END PET JACKETS
SWEATER VESTS ARE BACK:
If it’s not raining, often a nice sweater will help keep a dog’s body temperature up enough for shorter walks, such as the sweaters made by Chilly Dog found here: CHILLY DOG SWEATERS
Keep in mind that natural fabrics, such as wool, breath better than synthetics; however, a pure wool sweater requires a little more careful washing. Chilly Dog recommends machine washing in COLD water and NOT putting the sweaters in the drying: Lay flat to dry. (They can also be hand washed or dry cleaned.)
If you have a thin coated breed (think whippet or a pitty), warm winter jackets can be found from KUOSER such as the Fleece Lined Winter Vest and the British Style Reversible Winter Vest featured below.
Keep the Paws Warm and Dry
It’s going to take a little bit to get your dog accustomed to dog boots; however, they are worth their weight in gold when trying to prevent frost bite. One of the top-rated boots for dogs is by the “Secure Dog Boots” by My Busy Dog.
Funny Boot Video
Getting your dog to wear her boots isn't always the easiest!
It is unlikely that if you are walking your dog in the cold and you’ve taken precautions to keep your dog warm that your pupper will get so cold as to suffer from hypothermia. BUT if you have a senior dog or a young puppy who may not be able to regulate body temperature as well as a healthy, robust adult dog, this could become a problem.
Regardless, it is always good to know the signs of severe hypothermia:
A body temperature of below 82.4F
o Moderate hypothermia is 82.4-89.6F
o Mild hypothermia is 89.6-95F
Rapid and/or shallow breathing
Pale, grey or blue skin on the extremities
Skin that feels cold and brittle on extremities
Pain in extremities
Gums are pale or white in color
Fixed, dilated pupils
If your dog is suffering from hypothermia, this is an emergency vet call. While headed to the veterinarian, bundle up your dog in warm blankets and towels.
Ice melt products, such as road salt, are skin irritants and can cause dryness, cracking and even severe burns to the pads of a dog’s paws.
According to the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC), which can be found HERE, ingesting ice melt chemicals (by licking paws or eating snow or ice treated with ice melt salts), can cause vomiting and diarrhea so profound as to trigger severe dehydration.
Additionally, the APCC warns that ingesting too much ice melt (some dogs like the salty taste and will seek out treated ice and snow to eat), can raise your dog’s sodium levels, causing tremors and seizures. Some types of ice melts can cause serious mouth ulcerations, too. Even “pet friendly” ice melts (containing urea or magnesium choride) can cause stomach upset.
If you walk your dog in areas that use these products, such as roads and sidewalks, consider purchasing dog boots (as mentioned above and can be found here: SECURE DOG BOOTS to protect your dog’s paws.
At a minimum, wash your dog’s paws with water and soap after walks to rid the entire paw area of chemicals.
IF YOU’RE UNCOMFORTABLE, SO ARE THEY
Bottom line is that if you are well bundled up and are uncomfortable, you dog will be, too. (Unless you own sled dogs, then that’s a different story… )