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Cold-Weather Dog Safety Tips

Posted on January 15 2019

Image via Pixabay

5 Tips to Help Your Dog Safely Navigate Winter

Your dog may have a fur coat, but that doesn’t mean he is immune from the harsh conditions of winter weather. Your four-legged best friend is susceptible to hypothermia, frostbite, and a slew of other dangers the season presents. It’s not just weather-related; the chemicals humans use to handle the extremes are often harmful and even poisonous to dogs.

To keep your pup healthy, safe, and warm this winter, be aware of the following dangers:

#1. Hypothermia is a condition that occurs if your pup’s internal body temperature dips below the normal range of 100-102.5°F. If left untreated, hypothermia can lead to coma, heart failure, and death. Paleness and intense shivering are both signs of hypothermia.

Solution: Let him keep his fur. If you shave your dog’s long coat, winter is not the time to do it. You can still brush, trim, and groom him, but he needs his insulation to protect him from the dropping temperatures. Also, if you plan to leave your pup out for any extended periods, it’s paramount to have a structure where your dog can retreat to get warm.

#2. Frostbite occurs when blood flow to the extremities (such as the paws, nose, tail, or ears) is restricted as the body attempts to preserve the vital organs in the case of hypothermia. Signs of frostbite include discolored or blackened skin, coldness, swelling, blisters, and pain in the affected area.

Solution: Short hair dogs and older dogs need a little extra help when the temperature dips. It’s not just outdoors, either. Cats and dogs have higher resting body temps and need a blanket in their bed during colder months. Also, dress your older dog in a coat or sweater when taking him to outside. Pay attention to your dog’s behavior when playing outside and never leave him unattended. Chances are that by the time you want to go back inside, your dog will too.

#3. Antifreeze may keep your car running in the winter, but use with caution if topping off and always check for leaks from the radiator. The coolant tastes sweet to dogs, but it can be fatal if ingested. If your dog is drooling, vomiting, or appears drunk after being exposed to antifreeze, contact your vet immediately.

Solution: Keep hydrogen peroxide in your home to induce vomiting in case your dog consumes a poisonous chemical such as antifreeze. This can mean the difference between life and death. Mix the hydrogen peroxide with a little bit of vanilla ice cream to make it more palatable to your dog. Only do this if you are sure a poisonous substance like antifreeze was consumed. Afterwards, take your dog to the vet for examination.

#4. Sodium and calcium chloride found in ice melt can irritate a dog’s paws. The granules can get caught in between the pads and can cause an upset stomach if ingested.

Solution: Always clean your dog’s paws when you come inside after walking around in an area where there may have been ice melt. You may even notice your dog picking up his paw or limping while on walks because he feels the granules stuck between his toes. Massage the bits of rock from his paw gently and get him inside as soon as you can to wash them with a warm, wet cloth.

#5. Harsh winter winds and cold weather can dry out your dog’s skin causing discomfort, itching, and flaking.

Solution: To keep your dog’s skin comfortable in the winter, first and foremost make sure he is drinking enough water. Dehydration is a leading cause of dry skin. If he does not drink enough water, consider adding bone broth for flavor and added nutrition. Adding a spoonful of coconut, olive, or fish oil to his food can also help his skin heal from the inside out. Also be sure to brush him regularly to help exfoliate dead cells so his skin can regenerate itself comfortably.


Winter can be a dangerous time of year for dogs. The threat of hypothermia, frostbite, poisoning, and even just general discomfort all present themselves as the temperatures drop. Protect your dog this winter by keeping him bundled up indoors and outdoors. Clean his paws when you come inside to remove irritating ice melt. Finally, make sure he is properly hydrated and try adding supplemental oils to fight dry skin


By: Jessica Brody -