Cold Blustery Days and Dogs

Cold Blustery Days and Dogs

By: Judy Hamontre, AVHS Vice-chair & volunteer

The day after Christmas my 7 year old lab boxer mix, Gracie, was particularly reactive to the sound of the wind and hurried inside from her potty breaks and romps in the backyard. She did not want to go for a walk. (Neither did I).

Then I started seeing posts of similar responses from friends’ dogs, even those who love the outdoors, no matter the conditions.

The winds were steady and strong with gusts that threw debris about. Wind chills were in the single digits. Those cold, blustery conditions and our pets’ responses to them alerted all of us that it is winter and time to be more vigilant with our furry friends outdoor time, as the American Veterinary Association recommends.

Shorten walks and outside playtime. Keep dogs moving without over exerting them. Avoid dirt roads and paths that might blast your buddy with blowing dirt, rocks and tumbleweed which can cause eye irritation and inflammation.

Bundle dogs up in dry, clean sweaters or coats that adequately cover their bodies without restricting movement. If they will allow it, put on boots. If not, when you come in, clean paws thoroughly, especially between the pads.

If Rover gets wet, dry and warm him immediately by rubbing him down with warm towels from the dryer. Add extra blankets to beds, keep them clean and in a warm spot in the house but not near a space heater.

Check eyes and ears. Cold, dry weather can dry out eyes and in some breeds predisposed to eye irritation, cause cornea scarring. Low temperatures and high moisture can increase the incidence of ear infections. Keep ears clean and see a vet if problems develop.

Never leave your dog unattended outside, and never leave him in a cold car. A hot car is an oven. A cold car is a refrigerator.

As to the wind, not all dogs like it, which became evident December 26. You know your pup is stressed if he begins to pace, pant excessively, growl, bark or whine. Go outside with him on potty breaks and keep them short.

Inside, provide him a quiet, safe and warm place to “hide” until the bad weather settles down. Stay calm and do not overreact, as our animals pick up on our emotions.

I turned on music and distracted Gracie with her favorite game of fetch that always seems to become keep away. In no time her anxiety disappeared.

Knowing your pet and what he can tolerate is particularly helpful. Some dogs are more susceptible to winter conditions than others depending on their breed, size, color, coat, body fat stores, age, health, and activity level. If you are uncertain, your vet can advise you.

Winter is just beginning. Perhaps our dogs’ reactions to recent winds was our reminder to give them the winter care they so deserve plus lots more warm snuggle time, a great way to spend cold, blustery days.

Note: Pilar, pictured here, is available for adoption at AVHS.


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