Some dogs are made for cold weather and relish in the Alaskan ice and snow. Among the most common are Siberian Huskies. These dogs are used to working and sleeping in cold temperatures. Your Siberian Husky may even withstand temperatures as low as -60° F. However, even huskies sleep in insulated barns and huts to protect them against the cold at night. If even the famous sled dog has his limits, it’s important for all fur parents to consider dog winter safety tips.
While Massachusetts is no Alaska, the state gets plenty of snow, and winter temperatures often dip below freezing point. When this happens, many people with outdoor dogs bring them into the garage for the winter. People with indoor dogs rethink camping trips and spend less time at parks or in the yard. Still, exactly how cold is too cold for your average pooch and what can you do to keep them safe?
Too Cold For Dogs
According to PetMD, most dogs handle cold weather just fine. Their thick fur offers much better protection against the cold than human skin. Even so, after about 45° F, dogs with a lower tolerance level begin to feel uncomfortable.
When temperatures dip below 32° F, then owners need to pay keen attention to the welfare of the following types of dogs:
- Hairless breeds as well as those with thin or no fur
- Dogs with pre-existing health conditions
- Very young and elderly dogs
- Small breeds
Anything below 20° F is officially too cold for dogs. This is the range where dogs become susceptible to the same cold-temperature problems as humans. These include both frostbite and hypothermia.
The American Veterinary Association also reminds fur parents that just like humans, pets have different tolerance levels for the cold. There are some small breeds with thin fur that enjoy a good roll in the snow and love camping with you in below-freezing weather. You might also be the surprised owner of a Siberian Husky who starts shivering as soon as the temperature drops below 50° F. Know your pooch and plan accordingly.
How To Keep Them Safe and Warm
The good news is that there are plenty of ways to keep your dog warm. In fact, they may even be able to brave that winter camping trip with you. Dogs are exceptionally eager to please, so it comes down to your level of creativity and commitment as well as what works for your dog. Consider the following options.
1. Reduce Outside Time
Your dog’s ears might perk up when you mention a leash or going outside, but sometimes it’s best to keep him indoors. Consider more than just the temperature. If there is a wind chill, rain, or cloud cover, this can worsen the effects of the cold. Note that just being inside doesn’t necessarily offer enough protection. There must be some warmth available. Because of this, in Massachusetts, it is illegal to leave your dog in a cold vehicle.
2. Dress Warmly
If you and your pooch are determined to spend more time outdoors, then consider dressing him for the occasion. There are plenty of options on the market to provide extra warmth to your dog. Some fur parents use sweaters, scarfs, and even socks. Your dog may enjoy some of these and absolutely refuse to wear others. Be sure to try them on way ahead of time to see what works.
3. Wipe Down Paws
WebMD also recommends that fur parents wipe off the pet’s paw after an outdoor excursion, especially in public spaces. This is because they can pick up toxic chemicals, such as antifreeze and salt. If your pooch licks his paws clean after coming into contact with these, it could lead to mild or severe poisoning.
4. Know the Signs
Sometimes no matter what you do, your pooch simply cannot handle the cold below a certain temperature. To prevent their discomfort and the risk of illness, it’s important to know the signs that they are too cold. Here are a few:
- Whines or makes other sounds of distress
- Refuses to leave the tent, house or car
- Looks for warm places to hide
- Moves more slowly than usual
- Has ice on their body
- Begins to shiver
Dog Walkers Can Help
Not every dog enjoys being inside. Huskies especially enjoy the outdoors and may feel cooped up during the winter. Many pet owners learn the hard way that when dogs get stir crazy or become anxious, they tend to develop destructive habits. There goes your furniture and brand new pair of shoes. The good news is that you don’t need to worry about your pooch being cooped up inside while you work late hours to maximize that Christmas bonus.
Pet sitters and dog walkers at Dog Gon Good Time can drop by to let your doggo out for bathroom breaks, let him roam in a fenced yard or take him for a walk. Book your peace of mind for the winter break today. Your doggo will be glad you did.