It’s Cold Outside – Is Your Dog?

Published on January 18, 2013 by arothstein

Vet TechEvery pet owner knows that the changing seasons of the year create special concerns where their canine companion is involved. Most people are very familiar with the hazards that are present for their furry friend when the weather is warm and the family is enjoying outdoor fun, but there are just as many things to be aware of during the colder winter months.  Broadview University Veterinary Technician students want to ensure that your dog stays healthy through the winter months.


Just as you bundle up before going outdoors, you need to consider how well suited your canine is to the climate outside.  Just because they have a fur coat does not mean they are adapted to the cold. A dog is just as capable of suffering cold exposure, illness and injury as a human being who is not dressed appropriately for the conditions. A shelter should always be available for your dog to escape from the weather.

The extremities and exposed areas of your dog are capable of developing frost bite.  Think about the ears, nose, tail, legs, and paws. The delicate underbelly, or abdomen, is also a source for heat loss.

Canine Coat

It is true that certain breeds of dogs have been bred to better handle the bitter winters with thicker coats, like Alaskan Malamutes and Siberian Huskies.  This does not mean, though, that they are immune to the effects of the freezing temperatures. Extended periods outside will require the use of protective items such as booties to protect the vulnerable pads.  Frequent inspection of the nose and ears for signs of cold related damage can prevent a trip to the vet.

A dog who has short, thin, or no hair will be far less able to deal with the lower temperatures outdoors. These dogs will require the use of outer clothing, such Vet Techas sweaters and booties, and will only be capable of remaining outside for short periods of time.

While your dog is outside, snow and ice can gradually build up within the coat rendering it less effective in insulating your pet from the elements. Always remove the clumps of snow and dry the coat as much as possible. The hair between the toes should always be trimmed during the winter season.  This will enable your pet to have better traction in the winter snow and ice.


Pets who are young or elderly are dramatically more susceptible to cold weather complications. Their body is unable to maintain a normal body temperature, or return to a normal body temperature after exposure to the cold of winter.

These animals should never be left outdoors for extended periods of time.

Heath Status and Climate/Activity Conditioning

Just as the age of a dog is a concern when planning outdoor excursions, their health status can have similar issues dealing with the cold.

A pet that has been moved from one climate to another is less likely to immediately adapt to the conditions. Consider yourself when you go on vacation, like Hawaii or Florida, from a colder spot such as Salt Lake City. You will have an adjustment period going to and coming back from the vacation.

Diet and Water

The winter months place a higher demand on your pet for calories and nutrients as the body works to maintain a healthy temperature. If you plan on having your pooch spend more time outside, it is important to provide an adequate change to their dietary needs.

Water is just as important during the winter as summer, a fresh supply must be available at all times.  Snow does not count.

Broadview University cares about the health of your pets.  Our Veterinary Technician students get hands on learning opportunities to gain knowledge and experience they will use in their careers!

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