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Ah! Winter! Love it or hate it, it’s a reality many of us face and it brings special issues for our dogs to which we need to pay attention.
As we prepare our homes, cars and wardrobes for the coming cold weather, don’t forget to include your doodle! Your doodle needs special consideration during the winter months.
Depending on where you live, this can be a simple as providing more water to as advanced as needing a winter wardrobe for your doodle.
First and foremost, be very cautious in your use of antifreeze! Antifreeze has a sweet taste dogs (and cats) like and a very small amount is enough to kill your doodle.
Clean up any spills immediately and thoroughly. If you think your doodle has ingested antifreeze, get them to your veterinarian or emergency clinic immediately!
There is an antifreeze antidote available called Antizol-Vet, but it must be administered soon after ingestion. There are animal friendly antifreezes available.
When the seasons change, you need to be really tuned into your dog. Watch their behavior and look for signs they’re uncomfortable.
This becomes even more important as your dog gets older or if it’s under a year old. Going into this winter, my Sadie is 9.5 years old; officially a geriatric dog, so I need to pay more attention to her than to Sonagh who is still young at 8 years old.
I always keep a closer eye on my girls once the temperature goes below freezing. Since I live in Minnesota, that means watching my dogs for a good part of the year. Just kidding…sort of! LOL.
Both my girls like the cold and enjoy hanging out on the deck or in the snow. However, the colder it gets the shorter the time I allow them to be outside. Once we go below zero they go out, do their business and I bring them back in the house.
My first suggestion is let your doodle's coat grow out. Keep them well brushed so they don't mat. If they’re an older puppy, this could be a challenge as the puppy coat is extremely prone to matting as it transitions to their adult coat.
Their undercoat is what keeps them warm, so keep it in good shape. Keeping their nails, foot fur and the fur between his pads trimmed minimizes the formation of painful snowballs between the pads.
If they’re outdoors all the time (which I personally don't recommend for these very social dogs) make sure they have an enclosed shelter raised above the ground where they’re completely protected from the elements, with a heated water bowl that won’t freeze.
Provide lots of good soft bedding they can huddle down into for warmth and make sure no vermin are taking advantage of this environment. Warmth, water and food are magnets for mice, rats and other undesirable critters!
For indoor doodles (as I think all dogs should be) when they go outside to play or for walks keep an eye on their feet, especially if you get a freeze and folks are using salt and ice melt.
Keep a damp wash cloth near the door and wipe their feet off really well as soon as you get home. Salt can cause sores on the pads and, depending on the type used, ice melt can be dangerous if ingested. Booties are always an option!
They make great footwear for dogs now.
If you have a very young or aging dog, or it is very cold outside, I recommend some kind of jacket, preferably one that blocks the wind.
I’m not a big fan of dressing dogs up, but I make a point of putting a fleeced lined, wind proof jacket on Sadie now that she’s officially a geriatric dog. Also, if your doodle has a longer coat, putting a sweater on them keeps the snow from gathering in their fur.
So what are the signs that your dog is too cold? The most noticeable one is lifting their feet up off the ground and holding it in off the ground.
Check their ears and feet with your bare hand; if they’re cold, your dog is cold. Your dog may also start to shiver.
Watch for signs of frostbite. In dogs, frostbitten skin appears red, purple or gray. If it look like your dog is suffering from frostbite, wrap their feet (or the effected part) in a blanket or towel and gradually warm them up.
Contact your veterinarian immediately.
I spoke with Dr. Ingrid Bey of Anderson Lakes Animal Hospital in Eden Prairie, Minnesota regarding what to do if your dog gets too cold or worse, develops hypothermia.
Signs of hypothermia include non-responsiveness, disorientation and stumbling. She said that while they don’t see very many cases of hypothermia, the bulk of the cases they see are the result of the dog falling through ice.
So if you are near a frozen lake, pond or river, keep a very close watch on your doodle!
Dr. Bey had several tips for treating your overly cold dog. The first is to determine their body temperature by using a lubricated rectal thermometer.
A dog’s normal body temperature is 101.5 degrees Fahrenheit. If your dog’s temperature is below that level, call your vet. If the rectal temperature of a dog is below 100.5 degrees, the animal is suffering from hypothermia.
Dr. Bey’s next piece of advice concerns warming your dog. She warns against warming your dog too quickly. Her recommended method is to lay down with your dog and wrap the two of you up in a blanket.
If your dog appears to be moving slower as the cold weather arrives this may be signs of Osteoarthritis, a degenerative joint disease that’s very painful for your doodle.
Watch for signs of stiffness after activities, limping or something as simple as lagging behind on walks. Consult your veterinarian if any of these symptoms appear.
There are treatments available that can improve you dogs’ quality of life. And here’s a surprising statistic; one in five adult dogs are affected by arthritis
Winter can be a fun season to enjoy with your doodle! I would highly recommend talking to your local veterinarian regarding the winter issues particular to your area.
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