Not all dogs can handle the extreme cold that some parts of the country see, particularly in the more Southern regions such as Victoria and Tasmania. So it’s important that as Winter approaches, we’re watching our dogs closely during the cold, especially if we’re hit with a particularly cold snap that could drastically affect their health.
Tips and Tricks to keeping your dog warm
Know when it’s too cold
Dogs, like humans, show symptoms when the cold begins to get to them. Symptoms include; lethargy, runny and/or congested nose, watery eyes, low fever, loss of appetite, sneezing, whining or acting anxious, shivering, or feeling weak. When your dog begins to show signs of being cold, take them inside or put them in their kennel.
If your dog has a long, shaggy coat, they’re much more likely to be able to weather the cold. Hair is insulation for a dog, and the more hair it has the more it will be able to handle cold weather. If your dog has a coat of hair that is shorter or tighter it may not be able to handle cold temperatures as easily.
At around 12 – 15 degrees most pets will probably be quite safe. At 10 degrees, you need to keep an eye on them as it can be potentially unsafe depending on their age, general health, and breed. Seven degrees indicates that there is certainly potential danger, and at four degrees the temperature is potentially life-threatening. Animals shouldn’t have prolonged periods outdoors when temperatures are as low as this.
Don’t make your dog sleep outdoors
If your dog normally lives outside, and the temperatures aren’t dangerously low, they still need to be protected from the elements that draw heat away from their bodies. Insulated dog-houses with waterproof roofs and weather-resistant door flaps provide shelter from the harsh outside elements. A house that is just big enough for the dog will warm up faster and retain heat better than one that is too big. Dog-houses should be large enough for dogs to comfortably stand-up completely and turn around, and pets all need their own house if they live in multi-pet households.
If you don’t have a dog-house available, don’t allow your dog to spend the night on your back patio or porch in freezing conditions. Instead, make a spot in your garage or home so that your dog can stay warm.
Keep beds away from drafty areas
Keep your dog’s bed away from a door or window that could potentially blow cold air over them during the day and night.
Provide extra bedding for warmth
If you use a straw for bedding, use extra so that your dog has more insulation around them. If you use blankets, throw a few extra heavy blankets or old quilts in for your dog to curl up in. The goal is to keep your dog as warm and as comfortable as possible.
Get your dog off the ground
Do you have an outdoor dog-house? If so, raise it off the ground by 10-15 centimetres. The ground can actually take heat away from the dog and make it even colder. Elevating the dog-house also helps to keep moisture from building up between the dog-house and the dirt.
Make sure they have plenty of food
Once the weather starts getting cold, make sure your dog has enough food to eat. Dogs will stay warm by digesting food, so make sure they have plenty of food. You might even consider giving your dog more than their usual amount of food.
Common sense and going with your gut is always the best approach, and if you think that your pet will feel the cold regardless of the temperature, then keep them indoors. Any animal will suffer if left outside in extremely low temperatures, but shorthaired dog breeds will be more susceptible. You are your pet’s best advocate, therefore when in doubt, don’t risk exposing them to the cold. Above all, closely monitor your dogs and watch for any signs they are getting cold so you can respond appropriately and timely. Make it a priority to keep your dog healthy this Winter.