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Cold Weather Dangers Dogs May Be Exposed to

Updated on November 29, 2010

Snow can be fun, but know the dangers...

winter dangers for dogs, courtesy of ofrockwood,
winter dangers for dogs, courtesy of ofrockwood,

When winter approaches it may leave much more than a cover of white snow, freezing temperatures and icicles hanging down a roof top. Indeed winter season may hinder several unexpected dangers that dog owners may not be aware of and that often are unfortunately discovered the hard way. Responsible dog ownership requires much more than feeding dogs and taking them out for daily walks. Using the better safe than sorry approach will ensure your dog is safe and kept out of harm's way this winter season. 

Many of these winter dangers are caused by the weather itself, but more likely than not, humans play a good part of causing part of the trouble. Because knowledge is ultimately power, well educated dog owners will be able to do their best in recognizing potential cold weather dangers and therefore they will prevent them from occurring in the first place.

Brilliant Ideas for those trips out in the snow...

Milazzo Industries 02008 Qik Joe Safe Pet Ice Melter, 8-Pound
Milazzo Industries 02008 Qik Joe Safe Pet Ice Melter, 8-Pound
A proven ice melter that is safe for pets. For use on sidewalks driveways and parking areas. Noncorrosive. Environmentally friendly.

How to Keep Your Dog Safe This Winter

Winter Hazards to Keep Away from Dogs

  • Antifreeze

When it comes to winter hazards, antifreeze makes it to the top as one of the most dangerous products pets are expose to. While radiator antifreeze may be an essential item for the car's cooling system, it is unfortunate that every year, several pets get poisoned by lapping up some of this potentially dangerous liquid. One of the main causes of antifreeze being lapped up is the fact that it has a sweet appealing taste.

Owners should be very careful in cleaning up any anti-freeze spills and store anti-freeze containers in places out of the dog's reach. Should a spill occur, the area should be cleaned up and cat litter or sawdust should be placed on the stain to absorb any residual product.

All it really takes to poison a dog is an amount as small as 3 to 4 teaspoons. Upon ingestion, dogs may appear to be getting better within 12 hours but within 36 to 72 hours severe kidney failure sets in. Purchasing propylene glycol rather than ethylene glycol according to the ASPCA is a good option to avoid trouble (even though it may still cause similar toxic effects but to a much lesser extent), but owners must remember that dogs can still lap up spills from other vehicles in their vicinity.

  • De-icing Products

A leisurely walk in the snow may appear as a fun activity, but de-icing products may be irritant to the dog's paws and even toxic upon being ingested. It is best to carefully wash and wipe dry the dog's feet and stomach area to avoid the dog from licking potentially chemical substances off. If dog owners must use ice melt, they can look for some labeled as ''safe for pets''.

Ice melts tends to stick on the pet's fur and feet so there is really no easy way to get around this. Shaving the hair between the dog's toes may help minimize the chance of clinging ice balls along with chemicals, while special products may protect the dog's paws from icy surfaces. The use of dog boots may help minimize the problem.

Winter Relief For Arthritic Dogs

Nutramax Laboratories Cosequin DS Double Strength Chewables, 250 Count
Nutramax Laboratories Cosequin DS Double Strength Chewables, 250 Count
Cosequin DS is a nutritional supplement to help your dog maintain healthy joints. As your pet ages, it’s common for her joints to become less flexible, which impacts her mobility and quality of life. Cosequin DS is the top recommended brand of veterinarians to support and maintain the health of your dog’s joints. The only glucosamine/chondroitin sulfate supplement that has been shown safe, effective, and bioavailable in peer-reviewed, published, controlled, U.S. veterinary studies, Cosequin DS helps support cartilage production and protect existing cartilage from breakdown. It’s manufactured following standards similar to those practiced by the pharmaceutical industry. Recommended initial administration period is 4 to 6 weeks, though some dogs may respond in a shorter period of time. May be fed to your dog directly or crumbled and mixed with food.

Other Dog Winter Hazards

Conditions and Situations Likely to Arise in Dogs During the Winter

  • Frostbite

When cold winds and low temperatures combine, dogs may get frostbite even within minutes of exposure to cold. Frostbite is just a medical term given to depict tissue damage derived from the exposure to cold temperatures.The most likely areas to be affected are the tips of a dog's ears, tails, male genitals and paws. 

Signs of frostbite in dogs consist of the following: bright red skin at first, followed by very cold skin which hardens and becomes pale or gray.Then as the frostbite  starts to advance the tissue dies, causing the skin to become black and start sloughing.

  • Hypothermia

When the thermometer plummets, dogs may suffer from hypothermia when left outdoors. It does not take long for a dog's skin to suffer from frostbite and the dog's internal core temperature to dangerously drop. While a dog's temperature is generally anywhere between 100.5 to 102.5 degrees, dogs suffering from hypothermia, will go well below that range.Senior dogs, young puppies or dogs debilitated from a disease like hypothyroidism, heart disease or kidney disease may be more prone to hypothermia.

Mild cases may be treated at home using blankets, or using a heating pad being careful never to allow direct skin contact but rather placing protective layers between the pad and the dog's skin. Severe cases require immediate veterinary intervention.
Symptoms suggesting hypothermia are as follows: lethargy, shivering stiffened muscles, low heart rate, slower breathing,dilated pupils, coma and eventually death.

  • Arthritis
Seniors dogs may wake up considerably stiff on cold winterly mornings. They may be helped out with nice warm blankets, perhaps the addition of some glucosamine supplements and lots of TLC! Severe cases of arthritis may require prescription medications.
  • Dry, Itchy Skin
The dry winter weather along with the use of heating systems in homes, may make dogs particularly prone to dry, itchy skin. Dogs therefore, may develop scaly dry skin making dogs feel prone to itching and scratching. These dogs should benefit from a nice oatmeal bath every now and then which will help sooth the skin. Providing treats with Omega Fatty Acids or supplementing with fatty acid rich products for dogs may be another great way to help the skin get better.
  • Getting Lost

Ever wondered why so many dogs get lost during the winter months? According to the ASPCA, during a snowstorm dogs may lose their sense of smell and get lost. For this reason, it is best to ensure your dog wears its ID tags on his collar at all times, or gets micro-chipped. Best of all, dogs should simply not be allowed out on their own when snow storms are approaching.

As seen, winter does not have to necessary mean trouble. Cautious owners are responsible owners who are educated about winter dangers and practice the better safe than sorry approach. Winter can be a fun and great season to spend along with our four legged companions!


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