For those of us that grew up in cold winter wonderlands, snow is a welcome playground for fun and frolicking. The same goes for our dogs. Who doesn’t enjoy letting their fur baby run out the back door after the first snowfall and watching them dash and prance through the fluff? We’ve all seen the videos of dogs that run out only to sink down into a few feet of deep powder. Winter, while cold and grey, can also be just plain fun.
Some breeds are definitely more genetically adapted to the harsher conditions. Think about the thick coat of a husky compared to the shivering nature of a small chihuahua. Most German Shepherds even have a double coat of fur. While this makes them insane shedders, it also makes them one of the most winter-friendly breeds. The massive, and slobbery, Saint Bernard was historically used to help find people after an avalanche, while most are used as a family pet, you can be sure they will do well in any winter condition.
Just like there are dogs that were meant for the tundra there are also breeds that can’t tolerate it. Greyhounds are sleek and muscular. Their incredibly low body fat is one of the things that helps to propel them around a race track. It also does nothing to help insulate internal organs from the cold. Other short hair and slim breeds might love to go play in the snow or even go for a winter hike, but might be less adapted to the extra cold days. Keep in mind winter is not the same for everyone. The winters of Northern Idaho are not the same in southwest Idaho.
So no matter your best friend’s breed, there are a few things to keep an eye out for as the snow flies and the temps drop.
Frostbite: Just like people who aren’t properly dressed for the winter, frostbite can affect your pup. Human or animal, the body’s natural response to cold is to pull blood from the extremities and towards the core to insulate important organs. The result is ears, paws, and tails getting so cold that ice crystals form and damage the tissue.
Paw Pads: If your dog has fur between their paw pads, keep it trimmed. This helps to prevent ice and snow from building up. If you live in an area that uses salt to de-ice streets and sidewalks, know that that salt is toxic. It can cause cracks and discomfort to their pads. After your walk, wipe their feet to keep them from licking it off.
Extreme weather, whether hot or cold, can affect our fur friends. Just as you wouldn’t keep your dog in a hot car you need to make sure the cold weather isn’t causing them harm either.