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Dog Health and Safety Tips for Winter

Posted by Katya on January 9th, 2012

Our friends over at BarkBusters reminded us of some chilling facts about the dangers that cold winter weather can pose for our pets! They rightfully point out that: “Frostbite, hypothermia and even death are real dangers to your dog as the snow piles up and the mercury drops” below 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Most dogs’ coats are more like our hair – if you need to wear a hat to stay warm, your dog coat may need some help too! Double-coated dogs like Huskies and Chows are exceptions, but even thick coated dogs vary in how much cold they can withstand. It depends not only on the temperature, wettness, wind, how long they are in the cold, but how much “fuel” (food) they’ve had to keep warm while they play with you in the snow! Other factors also affect how long your dog can stay out with you safely – including how much muscle, fat and fur your dog has protecting them, and how much energy they have to burn (literally) to keep themselves warm. Just like people, many young dogs enjoy playing, walking or running in the cold with us for hours. So how do you know how much cold is safe – and comfortable – for your dog?

photo credit: http://www.sxc.hu/photo/820746

Always play it safe, and each year when winter comes, reassess your dog’s tolerance, which will go down as they get older. Keep a close eye on your dog while they are outside with you to watch for these signs…

Barkbusters says: When your dog is exposed to temperatures below 32 degrees for too long, frostbite can set in. Frostbite occurs when the dog’s ears, paws or tail get cold enough that ice crystals form in the tissue and causes damage. If you think your dog has frostbite, bring him into a warm area and soak the affected areas with warm water for about 20 minutes. In the meantime, contact your local veterinarian immediately.

Barkbusters says:  Hypothermia, which occurs when the dog’s body temperature goes below normal as a result of prolonged exposure to cold temperatures, is another very real danger during the cold winter months. Symptoms of hypothermia typically include shivering, lethargy, a low heart rate, slow breathing and unresponsiveness. If you notice any of these symptoms, immediately bring your dog inside your warm house or room-temperature car and contact your veterinarian.

Barkbusters says: A dog’s internal system works extra hard in the cold to maintain appropriate body temperatures. As such,your dog needs extra fuel to burn and generate heat. Also, remember to provide plenty of fresh drinking water and keep it from freezing. It is just as easy to get dehydrated in the winter as it is in the summer if proper amounts of water are not consumed.

Barkbusters says: Try to keep snow from building up along fences so it does not provide artificial steps that will allow your dog to get out of the safety of your yard. If he does get out, remember that ice-melting chemicals commonly used on public streets can irritate and burn your dog’s paws. Be sure to rinse off his feet after being exposed to such chemicals.

Winter months can be just as hazardous to your dog’s health as the summer months. But by taking the right precautions and using good old common sense, you can help protect your dog from the dangers that can accompany the harsh winter climate.

About Bark Busters:
Bark Busters, the world’s largest, most trusted dog training company, started in Australia in 1989 and came to the United States in 2000. Since inception, more than 500,000 dogs have been trained worldwide using its dog-friendly, natural methods. With 225+ franchised offices in 40 states and more than 400 offices in 10 countries, Bark Busters is continuing its mission to build a global network of dog behavioral therapists to enhance responsible dog ownership and reduce the possibility of maltreatment, abandonment and euthanasia of companion dogs. Bark Busters is the only international dog training company that offers guaranteed lifetime support. SPCA International selected Bark Busters dog behavioral training services as the “Best of the Best” in its category. No other training company or dog trainer received such a distinction. To fetch a trainer in your area, call 1-877-500-BARK (2275) or visit www.BarkBusters.com, where dog owners can complete a Dog Behavioral Quiz to rate their dogs’ behavior.

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