‘TIS THE SEASON TO BE CAREFUL

While we Californians are mired in the throes of a biting winter cold spell (daytime temps in the low 50s!) Tanner asked me to pass along some tips for avoiding two of the most common and most serious winter dangers for dogs:  Frostbite & Hypothermia.  Frostbite occurs after prolonged exposure to cold temperatures (below 32 degrees Fahrenheit), especially when there’s a high wind-chill factor. When outdoor temps drop, your dog’s body diverts blood to the core organs, leaving the skin and extremities – nose, tail, tips of the ears, and scrotum – at risk of frostbite. Signs are not always visible immediately but symptoms include pale, hard skin that remains cold to the touch once the animal is brought indoors, or swelling and redness once the skim warms. If not covered and treated, frostbite may result in permanent damage. In severe instances, the affected tissue or limb must be removed to avoid potentially fatal infection. Hypothermia can take place when your dog’s core temperature drops below the normal range of 100 and 102.5 F. If it dips to 99 – 90 F, your dog is at risk for mild hypothermia. 90 – 82 F put’s him at risk of moderate hypothermia. Below 82 and he’s in jeopardy of severe, life-threatening hypothermia. Symptoms of hypothermia include slowed pulse, shivering shallow breath, non-responsiveness to stimuli, and collapsing. If your dog shows signs of hypothermia, warm him with a covered water bottle or heated blanket and call your vet immediately.

A little common sense can help prevent both frostbite and hypothermia. As a rule, if you are cold and uncomfortable outdoors, so is your dog. Longhaired dogs like Siberian Huskies tend to handle the cold better than shorthaired dogs like Pit Bulls. Short dogs like Chihuahuas will get colder in deep snow than tall dogs like Mastiffs. Senior dogs, puppies, and sick dogs are more vulnerable to cold-related problems. 

When the mercury plummets, keep your dog inside. If that’s not possible, be sure to provide him with a safe, comfortable doghouse, and plenty of food and water.  A winter doghouse should be weatherproof, well insulated, and just large enough for your dog to lie down and turn around. If his shelter is too large, it will allow his body’s heat to escape. The entrance should be covered, and positioned away from the wind. It should have plenty of thick, clean, dry bedding. For added warmth, you might want to get your dog a sweater or coat, and, if he will tolerate them, booties to protect his feet from frostbite. Even with a doghouse, staying warm requires more energy (calories) than normal. If your dog spends a lot of time outdoors, be sure to increase his food supply, especially his protein intake. Water will freeze in cold weather. To prevent dehydration, use a heated bowl. Dogs’ tongues will often stick to metal bowls so consider using plastic ones instead.
Tanner with cousin Anthony and Delta
While Tanner drew first blood with his ‘Thank You’ blog, Eugenie and I feel a little ‘payback’ was in order. So, thanks to Tanner for inspiring me to write GIMME SHELTER ‘guarding’ us whenever the doorbell rings, even on TV…For nesting under our glass table during our dinner parties…For hogging the heater when it’s chilly outside…For loving all of the dogs we meet, even the nasty little ones that deserve a nip…For his enormous, soulful human eyes, his silky ears and his dripping kisses…For humoring us when we play keep away or jump…For graciously surrendering his toys and not lopping off our fingers…For allowing us to drag him along wherever we go, even when it means dealing with the car…For curling up on my lap and making my legs go numb during our long drives…For riding with his head out the front passenger window where I’m forced to endure gale-force winds…For leaping into my bed whenever the Santa Ana winds howl…For all of those delicious cuddles …For making me a kinder, gentler, better man and our home a sweeter, more loving place.
‘Thank You’, Tanner
Looking for the PERFECT HOLIDAY GIFT for the log-lovers in your life? Tanner thinks that GIMME SHELTER is just the ticket.
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