Cold, frigid weather presents the same problems for pets as it does for some humans. If your dog is uncomfortable in the cold, expect him to shiver or hold up his paws as he walks. Left outside for extended periods of time, your dog can experience frostbite or hypothermia. Look for discoloring of the skin, especially on the ear tips and other extremities.
If you find any signs, contact your veterinarian. Salt or other ice-melting chemicals as well as antifreeze can be extremely hazardous and life-threatening for the dog that ingests them. Road salt also can cause sores if it becomes lodged between your dog’s footpads. Dogs at risk from the cold and winter-related hazards, whether they live indoors or out, need special care. Here are a few tips:
1. Place a flannel sheet over your dog’s bed for extra warmth.
2. To keep warm, your dog may like to sleep on floor heating vents that can catch the identification tags attached to his collar. If your dog likes to snooze over a floor vent, put his tags in a Pet Pocket, which attaches to his collar.
3. In cold weather, your dog will need more energy to fight the cold in the form of extra calories, so don’t be afraid to offer him additional food in the winter.
4. Be sure to wipe off your dog’s paws when he comes in from the outside to prevent salt and other chemicals from sticking to his feet.
5. Keep antifreeze out of your dog’s reach, and be sure to clean up any that may have spilled in the garage or driveway.
6. If your dog is accustomed to living the good life indoors, don’t allow him to stay outside for extended periods of time in cold weather.
7. Make sure your dog has a warm, draft-free place to sleep. Since warm air rises, offering him a bed off the floor will add extra warmth and comfort for winter dreaming.
8. Don’t allow your dog to be off leash in a snowstorm or ice storm. If he gets lost, he will not be able to use his sense of smell to find his way home.
9. If your dog is short-haired, elderly, or sensitive to the cold, even for short walks, consider purchasing a sweater for him to wear in cold weather.