How to Protect Your Dog from Frostbite this Winter
With the coldest part of the year in full swing, it’s a good idea to pay attention to your dog’s health and wellness. In cold weather, dogs can sometimes suffer from frostbite, which is a serious condition that may lead to loss of toes or even limbs in extreme circumstances.
In the article below, you’ll find out more information about some of the best ways to protect your dog from frostbite during the winter months.
Recognize the Signs
By learning to recognize the signs of frostbite in dogs, you’ll know whether your pet may be at risk of developing this condition.
Signs include skin that has turned blue or gray, and skin that is very cold and brittle to the touch. These symptoms usually occur on the paw pads, but they can happen anywhere on your dog’s body with exposed skin or very thin hair.
Dry Your Dog
When your dog gets wet from walking in snow, ice, or rain, they are at a greater risk of frostbite in cold weather. The longer your dog spends outside with wet fur, the higher the risk that their fur could start to freeze and may affect their skin as well.
To combat this problem, you can bring along a towel to dry off your dog as soon as they are done with bathroom breaks. You can also dry them off when you get back indoors. As long as your dog is dry, they will not risk frostbite nearly as much as if they get wet.
On very cold days—such as those with subzero temperatures or single digits—it may be best for you and your dog both to simply stay inside. Your dog will still need bathroom breaks, however, so it’s important to stock up on potty pads for occasions like this.
You may also want to go this route if there is a heavy snowfall at any point during the winter. Venturing out with your dog in a foot or more of snow can be dangerous for both of you and is best avoided unless you are very well prepared.
Use a Sweater
Sweaters may not prevent frostbite on your dog’s extremities, but they can help. Wearing a sweater allows your dog’s body heat to stay closer to their body, which in turn means that the body heat can help to keep their paws and ears warmer for longer. They will not risk frostbite as quickly in these conditions.
Choose a sweater that still allows your dog to use the bathroom comfortably while wearing it. Additionally, don’t make your dog wear the sweater on a day that is mild or warm, as this could cause them to overheat and may be dangerous as well.
Use Dog Booties
Dog booties are one of the best ways to help your dog prevent frostbite during winter. However, many dogs are uncomfortable with the idea of wearing booties and may put up quite a fuss about them. If you can get your dog to wear booties, they can protect your pet from very cold surface temperatures outdoors.
To convince your dog to wear booties, try giving them a treat every time they allow you to put one of the booties on. Slowly, your dog will likely come around to the idea and be more comfortable with it, even if they don’t love it.
Keep Breaks Short
Finally, make sure you keep breaks short when you take your pet outdoors in very cold temperatures. If it’s below freezing outside, you and your pet both may be at risk of cold damage or injury related to these chilly temperatures.
By sticking to short five-minute bathroom breaks as your dog needs them, you can cut down on their risk of exposure to the elements. You will need to make up for this with plenty of playtime indoors, however; be sure your dog is still getting the exercise and stimulation they need, even when it’s cold outside.
Protecting Your Dog from Frostbite is Important
With the help of this information, you should be better prepared to help your dog combat the risk of frostbite in cold weather. You should be ready to help your pet stay safe, and you should know how to recognize frostbite if it does occur, too.
If you suspect your dog may be suffering from frostbite, even if it looks like minor frostbite, don’t wait to take them to the emergency vet. The sooner you take your pet to the vet for this condition, the better the chance at them fully recovering will be.