As we chug along with the winter, every pet owner should know what to look out for with the frigid temperatures out there. The two most serious risks for dogs during the winter are frostbite and hypothermia.
Frostbite. Frostbite begins when the dog’s body gets cold. As the body gets cold the brain senses this and starts to pull the blood from the extremities to the center of the body to stay warm. Everything on the outide like the dog’s ears, paws or tail are now in harms way. These extremities can get so cold that ice crystals will form in the tissue and damage it. Unfortunately, frostbite is not immediately obvious so you must monitor closely if you are out to long. Some of the signs of frostbite are pale or grey skin or the skin may turn hard and cold. As these areas warm, they can be extremely painful. I’m sure everybody who had gone out and shoveled or even when you were younger and playing in the snow, remembers coming in and feeling that awful thawing sensation in your hands and feet. This is happening to your dog too. The worst case scenario is that severely frostbitten skin will eventually turn black and fall off. Let’s not let that happen.
Hypothermia. The other very serious winter weather health concern for dogs is hypothermia. This occurs quite simply by being out in the cold too long, getting wet in cold temperatures and/or having poor health or circulation. The easy sign for mild cases is the dog will shiver. Check their ears and see if they are really cold or watch them walk. Picking up their paws is a sign that those are getting too cold too. As hypothermia progresses, your dog may show signs of depression, lethargy, and weakness. As the condition worsens, the muscles will stiffen, the heart and breathing rates slow down, and will not respond to stimuli. Severe hypothermia is life-threatening.
Always stay vigilant in cold temperatures and watch for signs that your loved one is struggling. This goes for other dogs too. If you see a dog out and struggling, notify the owners to get them in and hopefully educate them. Plain and simply this is animal cruelty.
Lake Forest Kennel Club and Groom Shop specializes in Pet Boarding, Dog Daycare and Pet Grooming. Located on 3 beautiful acres, with 6 outdoor play yards and an indoor play house, Lake Forest Kennel Club has been in the pet care business for over 50 years and is proud to serve pet owners throughout the North Shore.