Eight Ways Cold Weather Can Affect Your Dog

Winter is coming—and even though your canine companion has a fur coat, that doesn’t necessarily guarantee that your dog will stay warm throughout the season. You may be asking yourself, “Does cold weather affect my dog in winter?”

Cold winter weather can have negative effects on your pet. Here’s how your dog might be affected and what you can do to keep them comfortable and safe.

How cold weather can affect your dog

Here are just a few ways your dog can be impacted this winter:

  • Slipping and falling: Slipping and falling is always a risk when you’re walking on wet, icy or snowy pathways. On top of that, the road salts that help melt ice and snow are toxic to dogs and can irritate the bottoms of their feet. Even if they wear dog boots, it may make the slipping worse. Use rubber boots to increase traction, and rinse off their paws and bellies after walks, so they won’t ingest road salt.
  • Trouble regulating body temperature: If your dog is elderly or sick, they can have a much harder time regulating their body temperature. In turn, this can affect how their heart functions, suppress their immune system and cause them to suffer from low oxygen. Keep your dog indoors if it’s too cold for you to stand outside in one layer of clothing.
  • Joint stiffness: Just like humans, the cold can cause your dog’s joints to stiffen. Cold, damp weather increases pressure on joints, which causes an inflammatory response. The older they are, the more likely they’ll feel the effects. To combat this, make sure that your dog gets moving every day, even indoors.
  • Disorientation: When snow and ice cover the ground, it affects your dog’s sense of smell. They use scent to get their bearings. Don’t let them off the leash in the winter, as they may become disoriented.
  • Altered metabolism: Cold weather can also cause dogs to lose weight in the winter, since they need extra energy to stay warm. Talk to your vet about whether you need to increase their caloric intake. Unless they’re very underweight, you don’t need to worry. Just keep an eye on them over the season.
  • Skin irritation: Like humans, dogs can also suffer from dry, cracked skin and dry coats in the winter. To heal from the inside out, add omega-3s to your dog’s diet. Ask your vet about the right kinds of foods, treats or supplements to help.
  • Frostbite: Extreme cold can cause frostbite in ears, tails and paws. Avoid extreme cold, and watch your dogs very carefully. If they appear to have tissue damage, take them to the vet immediately.
  • Left behind in cold cars: Finally, you should never leave your dog alone in cold cars for extended periods of time. Cars provide only minimal protection from the elements and can even hold in the cold air. This can be fatal.

Now that you know how cold weather affects your dogs, you can keep an eye on them throughout the winter. If you notice a cold-weather-related problem or illness, take them into Sunnyside Pet Hospital for help. Call today for an appointment.