Winter is back and the harsh weather can bring a variety of health issues to our pooches. Biting winds and cold numbing wet days can cause your dog to be uncomfortable and unhappy. Whilst some people think that their dogs are okay with their fur coats and that they can tolerate the cold, this is not always the case. Our dogs are now domesticated and so many of them are now indoor dogs, so cold weather can be hard on them just like it can be for us. We can help our dogs be safe this winter by giving them a little extra care, especially our golden oldies that feel the cold a lot more than they ever used to.
Here are a few winter health risks to our dogs and some ideas on how to get them through these chilly months.
Winter Health Risks to our Dogs
Our dogs if left outside in extreme cold conditions can experience some severe issuess that can be life threatening.
Hypothermia can occur in dogs that are exposed to cold and freezing conditions for long periods of time, if they get wet in cold conditions, if they have bad circulation, old or are in poor health and are subjected to cold and windy weather. Hypothermia is an extreme lowering of the body temperature which causes the heart and respiration to slow down. Symptoms of mild cases would be shivering and their ears, feet and nose will feel cold. As it progresses your dog will start to be lethargic, depressed and weak. Their muscles can start to get stiff and their breathing and heart rate will get dangerously slow.
Frostbite can occur when your dog is out in very cold and freezing conditions. Their body gets exceptionally cold and the body pulls heat from their extremities like their ears, tail and paws to the centre of the body to try and stay warm. Ice crystals may form and the skin starts to become pale and a bluish gray in colour due to the lack of blood flow. The skin may feel icy cold, hard or brittle. This is very painful for the dog and in severe cases can turn black, blister or ulcerate.
Burns: Dogs can happily snuggle up in front of the fire or heater in cold weather but sometimes they may get a little too close. Don’t leave your fur baby alone in front of a fire place or heater even if you do have barriers up. Your pet can still get a bad burn by coming into contact with hot surfaces or spitting fires.
How can we prevent winter health risks?
Swimming at K9 Swim is a great way of exercising in the Winter months. The pool is indoors and heated and we offer a warm water rinse off and blow dry after. We also run a Senior Swim program for Golden Oldies 10 years and over.
For more information Enquire here
Temperature: Some breeds of dogs have big thick coats that can keep them warm but those dogs with thin coats need assistance with a warm jacket for the cold winter months. If your dog is an outside dog then a very good warm shelter and bed is essential to keep them safe from the elements. In freezing conditions a coat or a comfortable bed outside will not protect them from frostbite, to the extremities, or hypothermia if they are out for long periods so try and find a protected, dry, warm place for your dog during these conditions. If your dog is an inside dog then take them out regularly for walks and exercise but don’t leave them out in freezing conditions for a long period of time.
Exercise: Our fur babies still need to exercise in the winter months. The best time for their walks is mid-morning or mid-afternoon when the day is not at its coldest. When the sun is shining, spend time outside playing and get that great Vitamin D supplement. If you are showing or competing your dog in cold conditions then make sure you have a good warm jacket to keep them warm before and after their event.
Bedding: In cold months, its essential to have the right bedding so that your dog is nice and warm and comfortable. Do not let your dog sleep on a cold floor during winter months – get a trampoline bed so it’s off the ground and elevated. Heated beds are available and are great for old or arthritic dogs. Keep your dog away from drafts and provide warm blankets and a nice protected area.
Senior Dog Care: Winter months can certainly aggravate any existing medical conditions and arthritis that your dog may have. Senior dogs need to keep gently exercising especially through these cold months. When exercising, be aware of freezing ground, slippery surfaces, icy winds and freezing rain. Make sure your dog is rugged up when going for a walk and when they return from their outing they have a warm, supportive bed to rest in. You may like to give your golden oldie a mobility supplement to help with the aches and pains associated with age and arthritis.
Massage: Who doesn’t like a massage! Our pooches really benefit from massage, especially in cold months. Massage puts blood and oxygen into the muscle groups, it detoxifies the body, reduces inflammation of arthritic joints and circulates the blood around the body to stay warm and maintain a general well-being.
Nutrition: Your dog doesn’t have to eat lots more because its cold. They are possibly doing less exercise so you may have to reduce the calorie intake according to their activity level. Provide good quality and nutritious meals for your best mate so they feel satisfied in the cold weather.
A great idea especially in the colder months is to make up a batch of bone broth which gives your dog wonderful vitamins and minerals to keep them going through Winter. Bone broth not only is nutritious and yummy to them, but it also helps with their coat which can dry out in the cold months. Bone broth also maintains a healthy gut and is great for dogs with digestive problems, it supports the immune system and assists in protecting joints due to its glucosamine and chondroitin properties.
Here is a recipe for delicious bone broth:
What you need.
How to cook.
The broth will be like jelly when you first spoon it out of the container and some pets love it like that but you can warm it up for 10 seconds in the microwave or leave for a few minutes at room temperature and it will reduce to a liquid form.
Add some freshly chopped parsley to the broth when serving for added vitamins.
A couple of spoons full of broth a day on its own or mixed with food is wonderful for your pet.
You may also be interested in reading:
Winter Herbs - The Perfect Winter Remedies for Dogs
Grooming Your Dog Doesn't Stop Over Winter
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Hi I'm Sharon Osmond the owner and founder of K9 Swim. The Splash Blog is where I share tips and information on dog's health and safety and some fun facts and stories.