Dog Frostbite in Limerick, PA: What it is and How to Protect Your Pet
If you own a dog and you live in a place with cold weather, you might wonder if your dog can get frostbite. You might have seen dogs out playing in the snow and figured that your dog would not be impacted in the same way as you would if you were outside for too long in the cold. This is a common misconception, and it can lead to dogs getting frostbite and requiring treatment for this condition.
Dogs can get frostbite, and the most common places that they will get it are the pads of the feet, the edges of the ears, and the end of the tail. These are areas with the least circulation and protection from the elements. You will need to provide your dog with the right protection when they go outside in the cold for extended periods of time to avoid this kind of health risk.
How to Protect Your Dog from Frostbite
There are a few different options to help protect your dog from frostbite when going outside.
Coat, Sweaters and Boot Options
Dogs can be protected from frostbite by a warm coat or sweater and by putting dog booties on their feet. Many companies sell these products today, and they are not very expensive. There are also a lot of different kinds of dog booties that you can use to protect your pet’s feet. Some dogs prefer one kind over another, so you might need to do some trial and error to figure out which is the right solution for your pet’s foot protection.
Don’t Be Outside for Too Long
One of the best ways to protect your dog from frostbite is to make sure that they are not allowed to be outside for too long when it is cold out. Even if you have a doghouse for them to go into or some other solution that provides shelter, they can still get frostbite on their ears and tail. Dogs are no less at risk than you would be for frostbite if you were sitting around in the cold for an entire day.
Ground Temperature and Keeping Walks Short
Make sure that you keep your walks short and that you always consider the ground temperature before you take your dog outside without protection for the pads of their feet. It can be a pain to have to take the time to put your dog’s booties on before going outside, but worth it if the weather is too cold to keep their feet safe from harm.
How Cold is Too Cold?
You might be wondering what temperature is too cold for dogs to be outside for an extended period. Dogs are at risk for frostbite once the temperature falls below 32 degrees F. Even if your dog is being very active, at this temperature, their extremities will likely not be warm enough to stave off frostbite.
Be sure that you don’t assume that your dog will be warm or stay busy outside at this temperature, either. They will probably stand around a lot or try to hide somewhere to get out of the cold. They might curl up in a ball, which can protect their feet but, which will not help protect their ears and tail from the cold.
A good rule of thumb to remember is that if you need a jacket and gloves to stay warm when you are outside, your dog probably does as well. Many people assume that because their dog has a fur coat, it will be just as warm as a person who is dressed up for the cold. This might be true of some breeds, like the Husky or Malamute, but the pads of their feet and their ears will still be at risk for frostbite despite their thick coats.
The rules regarding leaving your dog outside in the cold are pretty much the same as leaving your dog outside in the heat. If you are not comfortable outside, your dog probably isn’t, either.
Another consideration that many people do not think of when it comes to having their pets outside in the cold, is that your dog will be unlikely to drink enough water when it is cold out. Even if you provide water to your pets, if it is below freezing, it might be frozen over. Your dog will be unlikely to be interested in water when the temperatures are too low, and they will avoid drinking water to try and preserve body heat.
This is a risk that many owners are not aware of, and it can lead to dogs that not only have frostbite, they also are suffering from dehydration. Dehydration and frostbite will both necessitate a trip to the veterinarian, and you will want to be sure that you avoid these conditions by keeping your pet inside where it is warm enough for them. Consider heating beds or a doghouse with a heated surface if your dog absolutely must live outside during the winter.
Frostbite Can Easily Impact Dogs
Frostbite is not just a human problem. Your dog can get frostbite anywhere on its body if they are outside too long in the cold. The ears and the tip of the tail will be the most at risk for frostbite, but the pads of the feet and the legs can be impacted as well. Your dog’s coat might provide little protection from the cold over an extended period, making it essential that they wear booties and a coat when they are outside in the cold.
If your dog absolutely must live outside in the cold, make sure that they have access to fresh water that is not frozen over and that you consider putting a heated pad or bed inside their doghouse. Having access to some warmth can protect your dog from frostbite and ensure that they will not end up getting sick or needing to see the vet. Frostbite usually requires surgery to treat it, and you will want to avoid this outcome for your pet during the colder times of the year.
Have questions about frostbite and your dog? Give Limerick Veterinary Hospital a call at (610) 489-2848 or book an appointment online!