Tips to help keep your dog warm during extremely cold temperatures

Screen Shot 2013-11-20 at 9.05.23 AMBy Shayna Frost |Copy editor

Wisconsin weather can be harsh and can cause physical harm. This fact applies not only to humans, but for animals as well. Animals may have fur, but that does not protect them from harsh winter conditions. Many dog owners have the habit of leaving their dogs outside at night, or all day. Whether the dog has a dog house to sleep in or not, that does not mean the dog is safe from outside conditions.

Eating snow is one of the many dangers of leaving dogs outside in the winter time. If a dog is thirsty, they may resort to eating snow. Eating snow can result in hypothermia. Dogs may also consume hidden chemicals in the snow, such as antifreeze, which often collects in driveways and roadways in the winter time. This chemical smells and tastes good to dogs, but even a tiny amount of consumption can severely harm or even kill a dog .

It is also important to take into consideration the breed and age of the dog to determine how safe it is to leave it outside for prolonged times. For example, Husky dogs enjoy the snow and their breed can endure extreme cold, so they will be able to be left outside for longer periods of time without harm. Smaller dogs and short-haired dogs, such as Chihuahuas, are more vulnerable to the cold. Elderly dogs and puppies are also more prone to suffer in winter conditions.

Dogs are more susceptible to illness such as kennel cough in the winter. Dogs can also get frostbite on their feet, tail, and ears. Temperatures at or below 32 degrees fahrenheit can lead to frostbite. Frostbite, not caught early, can lead to having to remove the area that has been affected.

Emotionally, dogs may feel punished if they are left outside in the cold too long without human attention. They may get bored, lonely, and even depressed. It’s important to pay attention to a dog and reassure it that someone is there to care for it.

When leaving the house for a long period of time, it is best to keep the dog inside. Temperatures or conditions may worsen while the owner is out without the owner even knowing. Leaving a dog completely unattended outside is not safe for the dog.

Shelter seeking is also common amongst dogs that are left outside in the cold. Dogs tend to look for warmth when they feel they are getting too cold, and dogs may seek shelter in places they can get stuck. For example, dogs may seek shelter in cellars or snowbanks, which are both places dogs can get lost or trapped.

There are also precautions that people can take in order to keep their dogs warm in the winter. Dog sweaters and coats are available to dog owners, and can help keep heat insulated to warm the dog. Dog foot booties are also available and can help prevent frostbite in the feet as well as ice slipping, and help protect the dog from hidden objects in snow that can harm the pads in the dogs feet.

There are many reasons why people should be cautious and careful when leaving their dogs outside in the winter. An easy way to know if it’s safe for a dog to be outside is to ask, “is it safe for people to be outside?” In the end, all dogs want is love and warmth. Dogs love human company, they aren’t called man’s best friend for nothing!