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Posted on Thursday, January 30th, 2014

Keeping your dog safe in colder weather

winter dog

With some American cities experiencing bitter cold temperatures, dog owners need to make plans for the safety and comfort of their pets.

Years ago, it was common to let so-called outdoor dogs spend the night in their dog houses, but these days, with temperatures dropping to the negative double digits in parts of the country, most dogs should be kept indoors at night: If it’s too cold for you to be outdoors for extended periods, it’s too cold for your dog.

Dangers unique to winter
The Red Cross, best known for disaster relief efforts involving humans, emphasized the importance of watching out for dangers to dogs, not just during blizzards but in all extremely windy or freezing conditions. Make sure they have easy access to their food and water and that the water has not frozen.

The police department animal control unit of Gardner, Kan. offered its residents some useful cold weather care tips for dogs:

  • Keep dogs on-leash in winter and away from rivers, streams and other bodies of water, even if they look totally frozen
  • Watch for signs of frostbite, especially on your dog’s ears, tail and feet
  • Make sure the hair on their paws is trimmed to minimize the chance of ice and snow freezing to it
  • Clean their paws with warm water or a highly diluted moisturizing dog shampoo solution to remove salt and ice-melt products
  • See that puppies and older dogs stay indoors most of the time, since they’re more vulnerable to extremes of temperature
  • Always clean up antifreeze spills immediately, since dogs love the sweet taste of this highly poisonous substance.

Anticipating worst-case scenarios
Monster storms don’t happen every day, but dog owners need to be ready when they do.

Obviously, in case of an evacuation, never leave your pets behind. Bring them, along with a pet survival kit similar to the human version. As in any survival kit, it should include food, water and any medications your pet is taking. It’s also good to add vet records, pet first aid supplies and a sleeping bag or warm, portable bedding.

In severe weather, hypothermia is a serious danger for pets and humans alike, and in both, the symptoms usually include violent shivering, a drop in body temperature, lethargy and a weak pulse. According to PetMD, among the common causes of hypothermia is long exposure to cold temperatures, submersion in cold water and wet skin or fur.

If your dog’s temperature falls below 98 degrees, you should get to your vet as soon as possible.

This content is provided by the pet experts at Hartz.