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Baby It's Cold Outside

January is here and with it comes the wind, snow, and frigid temperatures.

Winter can be a lot of fun to be outdoors, skating, skiing, tobogganing or just walking provided, of course, that you are properly dressed for the weather.

Our pups generally love to get out and romp and play in the snow, or make snow angels, or go for their usual long walks. But remember if it’s too cold for you it’s definitely too cold for them.

When the thermometer dips below freezing as it has been for the past week or so, be sure to take extra care of your furry four-legged friend. Most large breed dogs and those with heavy, thick, or double-layered coats such as Huskies, Newfoundlanders and Samoyeds can usually withstand the cold air without wearing a sweater or coat for a short period of time.  However, if you have a small breed dog such as a Basenji or Chihuahua, or one that does not have a thick coat or a lot of body fat such as a Greyhound or Boxer, then a sweater, coat, or both is definitely warranted.

Regardless of the dog you may own, any dog can suffer from frostbite and hypothermia if left out in the cold for any extended period of time. If the temperature outside dips to 7 Celsius or below, most dogs will begin to feel uncomfortable. At 0 Celsius and below, small, thin coated young pups and older dogs, or those with heart problems or other health issues, should not be outside for more than 15 to 20 minutes. This of course varies depending on the age, size and breed of your dog.   

To a certain degree, all dogs are vulnerable to the cold and paws, nose, ears, and stomach areas are usually unprotected and quite sensitive in all dogs.

If you are venturing out in the cold, it is wise to apply a protection to your pup’s paws such as “Bag Balm” or other such product which you can find in most pet stores. When you return home, you should wash your pets’ paws in tepid water to remove any dirt or salt which may have become lodged in the paws. You can also put “Boots” on your pups’ paws, but this generally only protects the paws from salt, which is quite painful to a pup.

If it is extremely cold and wet outside, put a sweater or coat on your pup and limit your time outside. If you see that your pup is trembling, he is probably too cold. Or if you see your pup walking slowly, taking a cramped posture or not looking well, let him cuddle on your knee or in your arms and get him home or inside out of the cold. 

When walking on a cold day, try to get out when the sun is out, or the winds have died down and keep your pup moving.  Stopping to chat with friends should be left until a warmer day.

When you get home with your pup, be sure to dry him off thoroughly with a towel, rinse and clean his paws and let him relax in a cozy corner so he can get back to his normal body temperature.

When going out during the winter months when the temperatures plummet, remember that young pups, those that are not properly trained, or fearful or nervous dogs, can bolt suddenly and become lost.  If there is snow on the ground, a dog’s sense of smell is compromised and he may find it harder to find his way back to you or your home. This is another good reason to be sure your pup is microchipped or, if he is a runner, should be wearing a “Tracking” device.

So, get outside and enjoy the winter weather but be sure that both you and your beloved pup are properly dressed for the occasion and do not overdo it.


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