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Drew: Keeping your Dog Safe in Cold Weather

By Samuetta Hill Drew

Winter 2022 in the Northern Hemisphere began on Dec. 21, 2022. It was the shortest day of the year and is known as the winter solstice. This past holiday weekend saw some historically low temperatures in our region as well as across our nation.

Most regions in our nation experienced bitter cold temperatures with some accompanied by ice, snow, high winds, and flooding resulting in many power outages and dangerous interstate collisions.

This is a critical safety series for those of you who are pet parents. You need to know essential safety tips on how to keep our pets safe and warm, especially outside dogs when temperatures plummet.

You can tell when looking at some dog breeds that they are made for cold weather. Siberian huskies, Malamutes, and St. Bernard’s seemingly get excited when it gets bitterly cold. Their coats are made with dense, warm hair that keeps them naturally insulated, where other breeds are likely shivering at the mere thought of going outside in the snow or bitter cold temperatures.

The cold isn’t just uncomfortable for some dogs in winter, it can be dangerous which it is important to take safety precautions for your pets/dogs.

Whether they are outside for a while or just for a potty break, some dogs need to wear a winter jacket. This may be after a trip to the groomer, when their fur is shorter, or all the time for short-haired breed. Be sure to consult with your veterinarian. Smaller and elderly dogs face the most risk during the coldest months but, all pets can fall victim to the cold.

So exactly how cold is too cold for a dog?

To determine whether your winter dog needs some warming up, Dr. Aimee Beger, DVM, of Oasis Animal Hospital recommends starting with merely looking for the most obvious signs first and foremost. “Shivering is a typical sign that your pet is cold,” she said. “They may also seek out heat sources such as electronics or vents in the floor.”

She adds that some dogs and cats tend to burrow in blankets or snuggle up to their human or animal companions for warmth.

To ensure that your pet can maintain an appropriate body temperature, Dr. Beger suggests offering them plenty of solace from the cold in the form of blankets, heating pads, dog sweaters and paw booties.

As this series continues, it will outline various warning signs and safety suggestions for you to help Keep an Eye on Safety for your pets/dogs during cold winter months.