Baby, It’s Cold Outside

by Jami Stromberg, DVM

The record low temperatures we’ve been experiencing in Minnesota have affected our pets too! My one-year-old border collie loves to be outside, even in the cold, but in the past few days even he comes back to the door after only a few minutes.

How do you know if your pet is getting cold? Well, the first rule of thumb is – if you are cold, assume your pet is too. Heavy coated breeds such as huskies, malamutes, German shepherds (and my furry border collie) can withstand cold temperatures a little longer, but if you don’t want to be outside for more than a minute, it is likely your dog won’t either! Other signs to look for are shivering, wimpering, holding up one or more paws, burrowing in the snow, or reluctance to move.

If your dog will allow it, booties offer good protection against brittle snow, ice, and salt. If your pet has a short coat, a sweater or jacket is also a good idea.

If your pet will be outside for a long period of time, make sure that there is unfrozen water available!

Also, just like us, if a pet keeps moving, he or she will stay warmer. That is why a pet can go for a walk or a run in chilly weather – the physical exertion will raise their body temperature.

Finally, beware frozen bodies of water! A few years ago my yellow Lab had the unfortunate experience of falling through the ice on the creek near my house. And I had the equally unfortunate experience of crashing through the ice trying to rescue him! We both came out fine, but it was a scary experience! And it took hours for us to warm up!

The forecast calls for a bit of a warm up this week. Take the opportunity to get you and your dog outside! We all need the respite from cabin fever!

Jami Stromberg, DVM