TUESDAY, Jan. 2, 2018 (HealthDay News) — As an Arctic front brings frigid temperatures to every region of the United States but the Southwest this week, a veterinarian stresses that your canine companion is also at risk in the extreme cold and snow.
The National Weather Service issued wind chill advisories and freeze warnings on Tuesday for a vast area that stretched from south Texas to Canada and from Montana through New England. Record-shattering cold temperatures were even expected to grip the northern half of Florida.
While people bundle up to protect themselves in cold climates, dogs also need cold weather gear like coats and boots, said Lauri-Jo Gamble, from the College of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell University, in Ithaca, N.Y.
If you can't convince your dog to wear boots, shorten the hair between the paw pads to help prevent ice balls from forming between and around the paw pads. Also, apply paw balm to the pads before going outside. When you come back inside, wipe the paws with a lukewarm washcloth, then apply another layer of balm.
"Dogs are susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia, just as people are, so use common sense as to how long your walks can be. Keep them short and watch for signs of hypothermia such as shivering, anxiety and moving slowly," Gamble advised in a Cornell news release.
Salt and most deicers can also be toxic to dogs. Try to avoid roads and sidewalks that have been heavily treated with salt and chemicals.
You'll need to trim your dog's nails more often in the winter. Due to snow cover, your dog's feet will have less contact with concrete and other hard surfaces, meaning less nail wear.
Keeping your dog active throughout the winter will reduce the risk of injury from a sudden increase in activity in the spring, Gamble said.
Ways to keep them moving during cold weather include taking them with you while cross-country skiing, skijoring, snowshoeing or walking, Gamble said.
There are indoor options as well, including indoor agility and obedience classes, nose work or cart-pulling training; indoor dog park or play time at the local doggy day care; hydrotherapy or warm water dog pools, she added.
The American Veterinary Medical Association has more on cold weather pet safety.