Save your dogs from cold weather for overall well-being - Vet Varsity Expert
Dogs need special care and attention during the winter season as the low temperature of the environment can have negative effects on their well-being. Dr Swaran Singh Randhawa, Director, Veterinary Clinics of Guru Angad Dev Veterinary & Animal Sciences University, Ludhiana shared some preventive strategies to save dogs from ill effects of extreme cold. He advised not to leave your dog outside in winter for long durations. Always try to avoid walk along with dogs in the early mornings or late evenings. When the environment temperature is below lower critical limit dogs could not maintain their body temperature and suffer from hypothermia. Puppies, geriatric and sick dogs have a lower capacity to maintain their body temperature and need higher temperatures for their thermal comfort and overall well-being. Ventilation should be good enough to minimize odours, ammonia level and cold drafts, humidity between 30 to 70 per cent. Animal age, breed, hair coat and overall health status all determine the sensitivity of dogs to cold weather.
Make sure that your dog has been placed in a warm spot in your house with well carpeted floors. Do not keep your pets too close to heat sources to avoid burns and put all heaters and lamps out of their reach. Better to use covered heat sources in rooms to keep your pets safe. Avoid alcohol and chocolates because they are toxic for dogs, even in small amounts.
Groom your dog regularly during the winter, to keep them properly insulated. Groom at least two times a day and avoid bathing before a fortnight. Dogs with thin to absent hair coat have less ability to retain heat and could not tolerate low temperatures well. Better to avoid shaving your dog down to the skin, in winter. Dogs with light colored coats absorb less heat and small size dogs lose heat faster, so more sensitive to cold. However, due to the insulating effects of fat, obese animals cannot cool off as well and are safe.
He said, dogs can dehydrate just as quickly in the winter as summer. So provide plenty of fresh luke warm water. Just like us, dog’s paws can have cuts and cracks in winter months so keep them clean and dry. Application of petroleum jelly can avoid further cracking.
Some people like to give raisins to dogs during winter months, which can cause renal failure, so avoid raisins in dogs. Antifreeze used as engine coolant, sometimes collects on driveways and roadways, is highly toxic. Being sweet in taste, dogs readily lick or drink it. Even a small amount of this antifreeze can be fatal for dogs.
Like people, dogs seem to be more susceptible to illness in the winter. Puppies and geriatric dogs need more attention. Maintain an exercise regimen for your dogs, especially those suffering from arthritis. Keep them warm and take them to a veterinarian if you see any suspicious symptom.