Just as we care for ourselves differently at different times of the year, we should be sensitive to our dog’s needs during colder and warmer weather conditions.
COLD WEATHER CARE
Well-nourished dogs, are better prepared to withstand the rigors of winter, particularly if housed outdoors. Outdoor dogs normally need more food to generate enough energy to cope with the cold. This is easily accomplished by feeding a high-quality nutritionally complete and balanced dog food. Offer your dog fresh water several times during the day. Electrically-heated water bowls are available, but still should be monitored regularly.
Dogs housed indoors may require less food in order to maintain good body condition. They tend to be less active and expend less energy. Short-haired dogs, geriatric dogs, and dogs with health problems may need the protective warmth of a dog sweater or jacket during outside jaunts.
An outdoor dog’s shelter should be insulated, elevated, protected from prevailing winds, and watertight. Because they use their own body heat to keep warm, the shelter should be small enough to preserve the dog’s body heat.
Remove packed snow or ice from between the toes of your dog’s paw pads and wipe the paws thoroughly. Otherwise, moisture can be trapped and cause sores. Salt and other de-icers spread on sidewalks and roads may also irritate the pads and cause them to bleed.
Because of its sweet taste, dog’s are attracted to antifreeze and lap it up when it is not properly disposed of. Antifreeze is highly toxic to dogs and cats. Store antifreeze where dogs cannot reach it. Antifreeze poisoning requires immediate veterinary treatment.
You may find your indoor dog experiencing dry skin and shedding. This is usually the result of low humidity. Frequent brushing helps remove dead hairs, skin and stimulates oil glands.
If you suspect that your dog has frostbite, do not rub any frozen tissue, which will cause additional tissue damage. Seek veterinary treatment immediately.
WARM WEATHER CARE
As temperatures soar, dogs become more vulnerable to heat stress. Maintaining a comfortable environment for your dog is important. Providing plenty of cool, fresh water will help keep your dog cool throughout the summer.
Heatstroke develops rapidly and is often associated with exposure to high temperatures, humidity and poor ventilation. Symptoms include panting, a staring or anxious expression, failure to respond to commands, warm, dry skin, extremely high temperature, dehydration, rapid heartbeat and collapse. Puppies and geriatric dogs tend to be more susceptible. Adult dogs more susceptible to heat stress include those who recently moved from cool to warmer climates, those with cardiovascular or respiratory conditions, or with a history of heat stress. With any form of heat stress, prompt veterinary attention is important to deal with potential complications.
Periods of Confinement
Confinement in a car or any other poorly ventilated enclosure can be fatal to your dog. One study reports that when the outside temperature is 78°F, a closed car will reach 90°F in five minutes, and 110°F in 25 minutes.
Avoid excessive exercising of your dog during hot days or warm, humid nights. The best time to exercise is either early in the morning before sunrise or late in the evening after the sun goes down.
Dogs who have recently received short haircuts may become sunburn victims and are as susceptible to heat stress as dogs who haven’t had their haircoat trimmed. In fact, your dog’s haircoat has insulating characteristics to help protect him from the heat.