Even tho your pet has built in “fur coat”, that doesn’t mean the cold doesn’t effect them. In extreme temperatures even the heaviest fur coat doesn’t protect your pet from hypothermia. Especially if that coat gets wet. Sweaters, especially for short-haired dogs, are a good idea. Signs of hypothermia include: violent shivering, followed by listlessness. A weak pulse, muscle stiffness, problems breathing, and lethargy. A lack of appetite and/or a rectal temperature below 98 F. If your pet shows any of these signs wrap them in a warm blanket (you can throw it in the dryer for a few minutes), and get them to your veterinarian right away. You may also give your pet a solution of 4tsp honey or sugar dissolved in warm water to drink, or put 1-2tsp of corn syrup on their gums if they are too weak to drink. This will provide an immediate energy boost.
The best way to avoid hypothermia is to prevent it. Make sure your outside dog has a warm, dry shelter out of the wind with plenty of food and water. Your outdoor pet will need more food in the winter to compensate for the extra calories it takes to stay warm. When the temperature drops below freezing, bringing your pet indoors is the best plan. If it is too cold outside for you, it is too cold outside for them. This is especially important for younger, older, or sick pets.
Your pet’s toes, nose, and ears are even more vulnerable to chilly temps. Frostbite is a serious threat to your outdoor pet, or even pets that only spend a little time outdoors. Signs of frostbite include: pale, gray, or blue skin at first, and red, puffy skin later. Pain in the ears, tail, paws, etc when touched. Skin that stays cold or is shriveled. If you suspect that your pet may have gotten frostbite apply warm (not hot) water for at least 20 minutes to the area. Do not use heating pads, hair dryers, etc. Handle the areas carefully, and do not rub or massage them as you could cause permanent damage. Call your veterinarian right away.
Some other things to remember are: check your pets paw pads when they come inside. Sidewalk salt can get in between them and cause irritation. Make sure to bang on the hold of your car or honk your horn a few times before starting it to scare away any cats that may have found a warm place to hide. Lastly, antifreeze is deadly, even in small amounts. Make sure to keep any antifreeze out of your pets reach, and clean up any spill right away.
Follow these tips, and you and your pet can enjoy the beauty of the season.