Hot Weather Considerations:
Exercising with your dog during warm weather can be a fun and rewarding experience for both of you, but be careful not to overdo it.
Dogs don't experience heat the same way that humans do. Unlike humans, dogs can't sweat, making their ability to dissipate heat very poor. And most dogs are wearing a fur coat that they unfortunately can't take off. Many times when you are comfortable, your canine companion can be overheating.
So be careful when exercising with your best friend. Monitor breathing levels. Watch for signs of fatigue. And you may even consider offering him sips of water along the way to help him keep cool.
Sunburn is far less of a problem for pets because most have enough sense to seek shade when they start to get warm. They also tend to be much less concerned about maintaining a golden tan. And fur helps protect the animal's skin from harmful sunlight.
However, animals with light coats or thin skins can get sunburned if exposed to intense sunlight. Owners should make sure shelter from the sun is available to protect their pets, especially on days when the sun is strong enough to burn you.
Any pet can suffer from heat stress. However, particularly susceptible are:
- Very young and older pets
- Pets with a previous history of heat stress
- Short nosed breeds
- Overweight pets
- Pets with cardiovascular or respiratory disorders
Help prevent heat stress by:
- Providing plenty of clean, fresh water for your pet at all times
- Providing adequate ventilation and air circulation when pets are kept in kennels or pens
- Providing shade cover when pets are outdoors
- Avoiding excessive exercise of pets during hot weather
- Never leaving pets in parked vehicles
Some signs of heat stress are profuse panting and salivation, staring or an anxious expression, failure to respond to commands, warm dry skin, high fever, rapid heartbeat, fatigue, muscular weakness or collapse.
If your pet has heat stress, try to reduce his temperature by gradually immersing your pet in cool water, spraying him with cool water or applying ice packs to his head and neck. Then take your pet to the veterinarian immediately.
Cold Weather Considerations
Be sure to provide proper shelter for your dog. If yours is an indoor dog, his bed or crate should be kept in a warm, draft-free area, preferably elevated slightly off the floor. If your pet is kept outdoors, provide a warm, insulated pet house or shelter. The house should be elevated enough so that moisture cannot accumulate inside. If possible, provide a "door" (perhaps of canvas) to keep out the winter winds. If your pet is in a pen, you might block the wind and weather with bales of straw and stretch canvas over the top of the pen. If the wind chill or other weather conditions become severe, bring your pet inside.
Remove ice and snow from your pet's paws and coat at once. Frostbitten skin may turn reddish, white or gray, and it may be scaly or sloughing. If you suspect frostbite, take your dog to a warm place immediately. Thaw out frostbitten areas slowly by applying warm, moist towels that are changed frequently. Continue until the affected areas become flushed. Contact your veterinarian as soon as possible. He/she will probably want to evaluate the seriousness of the condition.
Snow Removal Salt
Some substances produced to melt ice and snow have low to moderate toxicity, depending on the ingredients and amount ingested. Read the labels and take necessary precautions. Keep these products stored in tight containers out of your pet's and children's reach and be sure to remove salt from your pet's paws immediately.
Even a very small amount of antifreeze can be fatal. Precautions are necessary with all antifreeze products on the market. Read labels and warnings carefully. Thoroughly clean up spills at once. Keep containers closed tightly and store them where pets cannot get to them.
Staying warm requires extra calories, so feed your pet accordingly when the temperature drops. Talk to your veterinarian for advice on feeding your pet.
Always have fresh, clean water available for your pet. If your pet is kept outdoors, be sure to check his water frequently since it may freeze.