How to Protect Pets in Freezing Weather
Humans aren't the only ones feeling the drop in temps during this particularly cold season. When out driving during zero-degree weather, I noticed a bundled-up person trying to drag their dog through deep snow. It didn't matter that this was a big Labrador Retriever. He was obviously struggling in the frigid temps, holding up his paws and wanting to be carried.
Normally I'm pretty easy going about things, but in this case, I was angry. How can one expect a short-haired dog to be comfortable in sub-zero temperatures?
I've noticed comments on some of the videos of dogs wearing boots that it's "unnatural" and degrading to put footwear on them. Yes, we may find ourselves laughing at their antics as they try to adjust to wearing foot protection, but the benefits outweigh the indignity, and many pets actually prefer using them once they learn of the added comfort dog boots and coats provide.
Paws do have some natural protection from the elements, but they are not impervious, especially when there is a covering of snow or ice on the ground. Ice can cut even the toughest hunting dogs' pads, and snow build-up between pads can cause frostbite. This makes paws sore enough, but if the dog walks in an area where there is salt or chemical deicer, this is a recipe for causing severe pain.
After going outside, make sure you check for ice build-up and do a paw wipe down. That will also keep your pet from cleaning their paws by licking them and ingesting any salt or ice-melt chemicals. Consider some of our dog boots to give your dogs protection from freezing temperatures. Not only will it extend their tolerance for the outdoors, it could also save your flooring from mud and puddles (of both the snowy kind and the "there's no way I'm peeing outside in the cold" kind.)
Cold weather creates all sorts of hazards for pets. Cats and dogs do have some built-in protection with their fur coats, but paws and ears are especially susceptible to frostbite. Cats’ ears are delicately thin with very little hair, so they become quite vulnerable to freezing temperatures. Keep cats indoors and provide shelter for outdoor cats in your neighborhood.
Even large, double-coated dogs that like the outdoors need to get out of the snow, especially on cold days when there is a wind chill. If they don't, their extremities can freeze. Blood flowing through the vessels provides heat to tissues, but when the wind chill is sub-zero the blood flow constricts to protect the heart and vital organs. Unfortunately, with less blood supply the paw and leg tissues can become very cold and even freeze resulting in amputation.
The best way to avoid winter problems is to monitor your dogs’ outside activities, keep them in a coat, and keep your cat inside.
Photo of Jasper from Canada, submitted by Jen.