As the warm memories of summer give way to the biting cold of a Saskatchewan winter, spending time outside with your dog may take a little extra time and effort to keep everyone safe. Winter can be a wonderful time to play and frolic in the snow together, so here are some tips to ensure everyone stays healthy during the winter months:
Be sure your pet has shelter when spending time outdoors
Saskatchewan is known for its winds and these can greatly decrease the time that a pet is safe outdoors. Pets who spend more time outdoors than just a quick pee, must have appropriate shelter for the weather conditions and their size and breed. You can find more info about proper shelters for dogs, here.
Watch for signs that your pet is cold
While some breeds can withstand cold more than others, a good rule of thumb is that if you feel cold, your pet likely does too. Shivering and paw-lifting are tell-tale signs that it’s time to head indoors. Always monitor your pet when they are outside, even if it’s through a window, and bring them in before they start to show signs of being cold.
Older pets have a tougher time staying comfortable during the winter
Senior cats and dogs may not be able to move as quickly or stay moving due to arthritis, vision, and other general health issues related to age. Limit their time outdoors and always stay with them to monitor their well-being.
Short-coated breeds are more susceptible to the cold
Dogs from Chihuahuas to Great Danes can still enjoy the outdoors, but consider wrapping them in a warm doggy coat for some extra protection. Properly sized paw boots will also help them stay comfortable and have the added bonus of protecting them from snow clumping on their paws and contact with ice melters and salt.
Frostbite can be just as serious a risk for your pet as it is for you. Watch for these signs of frostbite in your pet. Should your pet present with one or more of these signs, bring them into a warm indoor area and contact your veterinarian right away.
Signs of possible frostbite:
- Swollen or hardened paws, ears, tail tips or lips
- Prolonged or excessive licking or chewing of paw pads or toenails
- Cracked or bleeding paw pads, ears, tail tips or nose
- Crying, growling or snapping when you attempt to touch areas of frostbite concern.
Let’s all have a happy and safe winter!