Ever ponder how your dog can navigate the snow without getting chilled? According to Yamazaki Gakuen University professor Hiroyoshi Ninomiya, the solution may be found in the way canines circulate their blood.
According to Ninomiya’s research, dogs have an internal heating mechanism that keeps the rest of their bodies from becoming chilled by cold surfaces.
According to Reuters, the blood that has come into contact with a cold surface is heated by canine circulation before being pumped back to the dog’s heart.
“At the tips of their legs, dogs trade heat. Their legs’ ends are filled with arterial blood, which heats up the venous blood before returning it to the heart “explained Ninomiya. In other words, their feet have a heat exchange system.
His study, which was based on an electron microscope examination of the arteries and veins in a preserved dog’s leg, was released in the journal Veterinary Dermatology.
According to Ninomiya, dolphins likewise circulate heat in a manner akin to that of dogs and have a comparable type of heat exchange circulatory system. However, not all canines are suited for the cold, much like humans.
Dogs descended from wolves, thus they still carry some of that genetic material, according to Ninomiya. “However, this does not imply that one should always drag themselves through the snow. There are many different breeds of dogs today that cannot endure the cold.”
Do dogs experience cold weather?
Your dog could feel cold in the winter even with a thick, heavy coat. Just like their owners, pets are susceptible to hypothermia (low body temperature) and frostbite (frozen skin and tissue).
However, it is simple to keep your dog warm throughout the winter. Your closest buddy will stay warm and secure thanks in large part to the same safety precautions you take for yourself.
Spend less time outside. Even the toughest Arctic sled dogs are not designed to spend extended periods of time outside in the cold. Not all body parts are protected by a thick layer.
According to K.C. Theisen, director of pet care problems at the Humane Society of the United States, “their ears are exposed, their feet are in direct touch with cold cement, and their nose is poking out there in the wind.” “Never let a dog outside alone for an extended period of time. If you want them to be active and exercise, only take them outside.” Even then, if it’s extremely chilly, you might need to cut a walk short.
Give them warm clothing. When it’s cold outside, small dogs and those with short hair require additional care. It may be challenging for puppies and senior dogs to regulate their body temperature.
Theisen thinks that a sweater or coat might be a particularly lovely addition and increase the pet’s comfort. nonetheless, leaving their head exposed. “You probably shouldn’t go outside if it’s so chilly that you think you need cover their head.”
Increase your friend’s intake of protein and fat to keep their coat in good condition throughout the winter.
Cleanse their paws. Your dog’s feet may develop accumulations of ice, snow, salt, and hazardous substances like antifreeze and de-icers. They might lick them and ingest the poisons. Particularly sweet-tasting antifreeze can be lethal.
Every time they enter the house, make sure to dry up their paws with a towel, advises Theisen. Additionally, frequently inspect their pads for damage. Snow and ice can bleed and produce painful splits. To avoid the formation of ice, trim the hair between their toes.
Don’t leave them in the car unattended. You are aware that you shouldn’t leave your dog in a hot car. Cold weather is the same. It’s a terrible concept, according to Theisen. “People frequently fail to consider how quickly cars can cool down in the winter. Even if pets aren’t directly at risk for health problems, they’ll probably feel uncomfortable.”
Make your home pet-proof. Watch out for potential winter hazards in your house, such as space heaters. Dogs are capable of setting themselves on fire or even tipping them over. Your pals’ skin could be burned by heated pet mats. The warmth of a dog bed or several blankets should be plenty.
When topping off your car’s antifreeze inside the garage, be sure to promptly mop up any spills and store the container in a secure location. Propylene glycol, as opposed to ethylene glycol, is used in safer products.
Recognize the red flags. Watch out for hypothermia and frostbite signs, and know when to call your veterinarian.
Get your pet indoors as soon as possible if they:
- Whines or displays anxiety
- cannot stop shaking or appears frail
- an ice-covered body
- slows down or stops moving
- tries to find warm spots to burrow.
These can be hypothermia warning signals. Once they are warm, cover them with blankets and contact the veterinarian for further advice.
The signs of frostbite may take longer to manifest. According to Barry Kellogg, VMD of the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association, check your dog every day for any unexpected changes, such as sore or pale spots.
Defend against the weather. If you’re forced to leave your dog outside for a while, make sure they have access to a dry, spacious shelter that is wind-free. A few inches of elevation should be added to the floor, and cedar shavings or straw should be spread throughout. Keep a canvas or waterproof plastic cover above the doorway. Give them a lot to eat, and make sure their water doesn’t freeze over by checking on it as frequently as you can.
Available in both full color and black and white for download only by AVMA members.
Did you know that cold weather also poses major risks to your pets’ health? You probably already know about the dangers of warm weather and putting pets in hot cars.
Here are some pointers for keeping your pets safe in the cold:
Have you given your pet a preventive care exam (or wellness exam) yet? Some medical disorders, such as arthritis, may get worse in the cold. It’s a good idea to get your pet checked out now to make sure (s)he is as prepared and healthy as possible for the upcoming cold weather. Your pet should be evaluated by a veterinarian at least once each year.
Tolerance to cold can vary from pet to pet depending on coat, body fat storage, exercise level, and health, just like it can for people. Consider your pet’s tolerance for chilly weather and make adjustments as necessary. In order to protect you and your dog from potential health concerns brought on by the extreme cold, you should probably cut the length of your walks. Elderly and arthritic animals may find it more difficult to walk on snow and ice and may be more likely to trip and fall. Although dogs with long hair or thick coats are typically more tolerant of the cold, they nevertheless run the danger of hypothermia. Short-haired animals experience the cold more quickly because they have less insulation, and short-legged animals may also experience the cold more quickly since their stomachs and bodies are more likely to touch snow-covered ground. Pets who suffer from conditions like diabetes, heart illness, kidney disease, or hormonal imbalances (like Cushing’s disease) may find it more difficult to control their body temperature and may be more vulnerable to complications from temperature extremes. Pets that are extremely young or very old behave similarly. Consult your veterinarian if you need assistance calculating your pet’s safe temperature range.
Give them options: Just like us, pets prefer cozy places to sleep and may move depending on whether they need more or less heat. Give them a few secure options so they can change where they sleep as needed to suit their needs.
Remain inside. During the winter, cats and dogs should be kept indoors. It’s a myth that because of their coats, dogs and cats are more tolerant of cold temperatures than humans, but this is inaccurate. Like humans, cats and dogs should be kept indoors since they can get frostbite and hypothermia. Huskies and other dogs bred for colder climes have longer hair and thicker coats, making them more tolerant of cold weather. However, no pet should be left outside in below-freezing temperatures for extended periods of time.
Make some noise: A heated car engine may seem like an enticing source of heat for stray and outdoor cats, but it’s dangerous. Before starting the engine, check underneath your vehicle, rap on the hood, and honk the horn to entice any hitchhiking cats to leave their home under the hood.
Check your dog’s paws periodically for injuries or damage caused by the cold, such as bleeding or split paw pads. A sudden lameness while walking could be the result of an injury or ice buildup between the person’s toes. By trimming the hair between your dog’s toes, you might be able to lower the likelihood of iceball collection.
Play dress-up: If your dog has a short coat or exhibits signs of discomfort in the cold, think about getting them a sweater or dog coat. So that you can use a dry sweater or coat every time your dog goes outside, have a few on hand. Your dog may become chilly as a result of wet jackets or sweaters. If you decide to wear them, make sure the booties fit properly. Some pet owners also use booties to protect their dog’s feet.
Wipe down: While out for walks, your dog’s feet, legs, and belly may come into contact with antifreeze, deicers, or other potentially hazardous chemicals. Wipe down (or wash) your pet’s feet, legs, and belly when you go back inside to get rid of these toxins and lessen the possibility that your dog could become poisoned from licking his or her feet or fur. To safeguard your pets and the other residents of your community, think about utilizing pet-safe deicers on your property.
Collar and chip: Many pets get lost in the winter because snow and ice cover up odors that would typically aid your pet in locating his or her way home. Make sure your pet is wearing a collar that fits properly and is marked with current identification and contact information. Although a microchip is a more durable form of identification, it’s crucial to maintain the registration.
Stay at home: Not only are chilly automobiles dangerous for your pet’s health, but hot cars are also considered to be dangerous for pets. You are already aware of how quickly a car may cool down in a cold climate; it turns into a refrigerator and can quickly chill your pet. Young, aged, sick, or thin pets are especially sensitive to cold temperatures and should never be left in chilly cars. Don’t take your pet anywhere in the car unattended, and only use the car when absolutely essential.
Antifreeze spills should be cleaned up right once because even little amounts can be fatal. Make sure your pets don’t get access to home chemicals, pill bottles, xylitol (a sugar alternative), chocolate, or other potentially hazardous items like onions.
Protect your family by making sure your home is fully pet-proofed throughout the winter, when it’s likely that your pet will spend more time inside. When using a space heater near a pet, use caution because they could burn the pet or tip over, perhaps igniting a fire. Make sure your furnace is functioning effectively before the cold season arrives, and install carbon monoxide detectors to protect your entire family from danger. Make sure your pet bird’s cage is away from drafts if you have one.
Avoid ice: When taking your dog for a stroll, avoid frozen lakes, ponds, and other bodies of water. You don’t know if the ice can support your dog’s weight, and it might be fatal if your dog somehow manages to break through. Additionally, if this occurs and you try to intuitively save your dog, both of your life may be in danger.
Shelter: While we don’t advise keeping any pet outside for extended periods of time, if you can’t keep your dog inside during cold weather, provide him or her access to a warm, wind- and weather-resistant shelter. Ensure they have unrestricted access to fresh, unfrozen water (by changing the water frequently or using a pet-safe, heated water bowl). The bedding should be thick, dry, and changed frequently to provide a warm, dry environment. The bottom of the shelter should be raised off the ground (to reduce heat loss into the ground). Place the shelter’s door away from the direction of the strongest gusts. Heat lamps and space heaters should be avoided due to the possibility of burns or fire. Considering that heated pet mats can still result in burns, they should be used with caution.
Identify issues: If your pet begins to whine, shiver, appear frightened, slows down or stops moving, appears weak, or begins to hunt for warm areas to burrow, get them back inside as soon as possible since they are exhibiting symptoms of hypothermia. Frostbite is more difficult to spot, and it could not fully be understood until a few days after the damage has already been done. Consult your veterinarian right away if you think your pet may be suffering from hypothermia or frostbite.
Be ready because cold temperatures can increase your likelihood of experiencing severe winter weather, blizzards, and power outages. Make a disaster/emergency kit, and remember to plan for your pet. Have at least five days’ worth of supplies of food, water, and medicines (including any prescription drugs, heartworm, and flea/tick preventives).
Feed sensibly and maintain a healthy weight for your pet all winter long. Some pet owners believe that giving their animal companion a little extra weight will provide them with extra protection from the cold, but the health hazards involved with that extra weight make it unwise to do so. Keep an eye on your pet’s body condition and keep it within healthy bounds. In the winter, outdoor animals will need more calories to maintain their body heat and energy levels. Consult your veterinarian regarding your pet’s dietary requirements during the winter.
Cold weather safety for livestock
Not all animals require protection during the winter, just companion animals. When the temperature grows cooler, livestock, particularly horses, have certain considerations and requirements.
Recognize the value of early veterinary care and make plans for an examination early in the season to address any issues before the worst weather hits. Discussing the need for immunizations, nutritional supplements, deworming, and other parasite treatments at this time is an excellent idea. Pregnant animals should receive extra attention from the vet, and extremely young or very old animals may also need special care.
Give your livestock the proper protection from the weather: Livestock can typically withstand chilly temperatures, but wind, rain, or snow will result in an increased calorie requirement. In light of this, make sure they have a way to escape the weather, especially the wind. Horses can be protected with blankets, but the greatest form of defense is a solid shelter with good ventilation and dry bedding. If you choose to blanket your horses, be careful to regularly check the area underneath for indications of damage, illness, or malnourishment.
To avoid injuries, keep the amount of ice down to a minimum. Also, remember to keep your driveways clear so that vets and farriers can get to your animals. Prepare properly to avoid mud management problems in the winter, whether that means using gravel, sand, or woodchips or other materials or procedures.
Think about the quantity and quality of the feed: Livestock need to eat enough calories to heat themselves because, in addition to sheltering, they need to expend energy to stay warm. To create a feeding strategy that suits the nutritional needs of your animals, think about speaking with your veterinarian. This could entail raising the quantity or caliber of feed that is accessible to your animals. Compared to healthy, middle-aged animals, very young, very old, or sick animals would often need more feed throughout the winter.
Make sure your herd has access to fresh, unfrozen water. This is essential. Water can be kept at a temperature your animals can drink comfortably with the use of tank heaters or heated buckets. It is crucial to provide enough water to livestock throughout the winter months because they won’t drink enough if the temperature is below freezing.