It's beginning to approach those harsh winter days here in Missouri, and while we take cover in our homes afraid to enter the daunting outdoors, let us not forget about our four-legged friends as well! When temperatures drop, we don't go outside in swimsuits and flip flops (it's okay if you're of the 1%... no judgements here) but instead we bundle up! Sometimes we look at our dog-pals and assume that with all of that fur they have to be as warm as a dumplin'!
For this weeks blog we will be pulling some information from AMVA (American Veterinary Medical Association) on how different breeds and sizes of dogs handle different temperatures and weather conditions. Hit it!
First things first- does your dogg-o have any medical conditions that could worsen with harsher climates, such as arthritis? It's a good idea to have your pets undergo a yearly check up just as you would for yourself - This way, you can get ahead of cold weather obstacles and be prepared for items your pet may need to be healthy and happy! "Pets with diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, or hormonal imbalances (such as Cushing's disease) may have a harder time regulating their body temperature, and may be more susceptible to problems from temperature extremes (AMVA)."
Know Their Limits
Yes, some dogs are designed in a way that they can withstand harsher temperatures, but no dog should be left outside, overnight in below freezing conditions. Such factors can also change the lengths and durations of your daily pet-walks as well! If your dog has a short coat or seems to be more affected by the cold, play dress up. That's right... that cute doggie sweater you've been eyeing? It could be much more than a fashion statement, keeping your furry pal nice and cozy.
Be Observant of Odd or Different Behaviors
Is your dog walking funny? Check their paws for "signs of cold-weather injury or damage, such as cracked paw pads or bleeding. During a walk, a sudden lameness may be due to an injury or may be due to ice accumulation between his/her toes (AMVA)." Also be on the lookout for other abnormal behaviors such as becoming extremely lethargic, whining, shivering, and burrowing as these can all be indicators of hypothermia. Signs of frostbite can be sneaky, and hard to detect until a few days later so it's really important to be on the lookout at all times!
Can't Bring Your Dog Inside? Provide Shelter
While it is not encouraged for any pets to be left outside all night in extreme temperatures, if it is not possible for your pet to come inside make sure you have strong, sturdy shelter available. If possible, place the shelter floor off of the ground to minimize heat loss, and provide thick, dry bedding. Also, make sure your pet always has access to fresh, unfrozen water.
Your Dog is Family- Include Them in Emergency Plans
With winter at our front door, we must be prepared for winter-induced emergency situations. Here in Missouri, we have experienced the unforgivable consequences ice can bring such as power outages. Even though less expected in this region it's a good idea to be prepared for mass snowfall as well, making it difficult to leave home. In your emergency kits, make sure and have the equipment needed for your pets as well- This could include enough fresh water, food, and any medications they may need.
We love all animals, and we know you love yours too! But in the same way that you would protect yourself against those grody Missouri winters, make sure your pets are protected too!