Cold Weather is here!

Winter weather is here in Raleigh!  With sleet, snow, and freezing rain, it’s important to take a few minutes to think about your pet’s health.

Two common conditions from winter weather are hypothermia and dry skin.

Hypothermia can happen in any dog, but is more common in the shorter haired breeds, such as chihauhas, pitbulls, and weimaraners.  While playing outside, these dogs may be fine for a period of time, but if they have to sleep outside or aren’t moving frequently, they can succumb to hypothermia very quickly which requires emergency veterinary care and can be fatal.  In order to combat this, it’s smart to bring your pets in during days and nights of extreme cold.  It’s also important that even if your dog is a breed built for the snow (ie Husky) that you provide warm shelter such as a dogloo dog house with insulative bedding, or you can allow them inside a sheltered area such as a garage. However, if you do this be sure to check for any possible poisonous chemicals or substances! Additionally, keep fresh water available and monitor the bowl for freezing.  Also, you may flavor the water with a naturally flavored beverage such as Gatorade (no artificial sweetners), to encourage pets to drink in this cold weather!

Dry skin is another condition that can happen any time of the year, but can really be aggravated by cold air.  When cold, dry air stays around for a number of days, your pet’s skin loses moisture and can make them prone to itching. The most common sign of dry skin that you may see is dry flakes, particularly on your pet’s back. Your pet’s skin can be especially prone to drying out after bathing, which is why Dr. Hipp recommends using a hypoallergenic crème rinse (conditioner) that soothes and conditions the skin, after shampooing your pet, especially in the winter months. This will help prevent dry skin and irritation.  In addition, any fish oils added to your pet’s diet will also help moisturize your pet’s skin and add sheen to their coat.

It’s also a good idea to keep an eye on your dog’s paws after walking them in the snow and ice.  Sometimes the city or communities will salt or brine the roads during a snow event.  The ice and salt can irritate paws, leading to discomfort.  It’s a good idea to rinse your dog’s paws with fresh water after a walk if there has recently been salt applied.

Winter in Raleigh can be a lot of fun with dogs.  They can play and dig and get excited about something that they don’t usually get to experience.  And a little bit of preparation from their humans will keep them playing happily!

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