Snowy weather is here to stay for the next three months! For anyone who loves the holidays, snowfall, and the magic of winter, this time of year is cause for celebration. As you and your new puppy enjoy all the festivities that December, January, and February have to offer, you’ll want to make sure that your furry friend is safe at all times.
Here are 5 winter hazards that can harm your puppy, and what you can do to keep your puppy happy and healthy until spring arrives!
1) FROSTBITE & HYPOTHERMIA
Canines might seem immune to the wintery elements, but just because wolves featured on the nature channel fare well in the tundra, doesn’t mean your domestic fur baby will be comfortable outside when the temperature is below freezing.
Depending on the breed of your new puppy, he might be more sensitive to cold weather than you are! When the temperature drops below freezing, many dog breeds become at risk for frostbite and hypothermia. Just like humans, when a dog’s body experiences extremely cold temperatures, the blood withdraws from the extremities to surround the vital organs. With minimal circulation to his paws, your puppy can develop frostbite quickly.
In order to prevent this, dress your puppy in booties and a sweater or coat. If your puppy belongs to a breed that’s especially sensitive to the cold, such as a miniature greyhound or short-haired chihuahua, be mindful to strictly limit the time your puppy spends outdoors. Even a walk around the block could spell trouble for your pooch, and you may need to carry him for part of it to prevent his little paws from getting too cold.
That being said, some dog breeds were designed for extremely cold weather, such as Huskies, Alaskan Malamutes, and Saint Bernards. These breeds will not need any extra insulation like booties, sweaters, and coats. In fact, if you try to bundle them up, they could overheat and become uncomfortable!
Winter weather dehydration is common in dogs of all breeds and ages. Puppies can become dehydrated during the cold, winter months due to the lower humidity level in the air. Indoor air humidity levels can become remarkably low within homes that use wood-burning stoves. As the air dries out, your puppy’s body can dry out as well, causing him to become dehydrated.
You’ll probably notice that your puppy grows increasingly thirsty throughout the winter. This is nothing to be alarmed about. Continue to make sure he has plenty of fresh water and refill his water bowl if he drinks it down. Your puppy is listening to his body, and this is a good thing! Just plan for more bathroom trips as nature takes its course!
Whenever you play outside with your puppy, whether in the backyard or at the dog park, be sure to provide him with fresh water there, too. Dogs that become thirsty while playing outside in the snow will resort to eating the snow if there isn’t a fresh source of water nearby. This can pose health risks to your puppy since snow is often contaminated with pollutants, toxins, dirt, and ice-melt salt, all of which can make your puppy very sick. But more on “salt sickness” later…
3) ANTIFREEZE POISONING
If you live in cold weather climates, then you know that your car won’t run properly without antifreeze. Antifreeze regulates the temperature of your car’s engine, preventing it from locking up and failing during below-freezing weather. Antifreeze is also added to windshield wiper solution and other liquids that keep your automobile running smoothly.
When vehicles with antifreeze sit in garages, driveways, and sidewalks, the antifreeze can leak from the radiator onto the pavement and surrounding areas. Unfortunately, antifreeze smells and tastes “sweet,” which can attract animals, including your puppy.
It is absolutely vital to the health and safety of your puppy that you do not expose him to antifreeze. Even a full-grown, adult dog that ingests antifreeze could die from this poison. Instances when death isn’t the result can still render a dog’s kidneys permanently damaged.
You can prevent antifreeze poisoning by remaining aware of your vehicles. If you notice your radiator leaking or notice any leaks around your vehicle, bring your car to the mechanic to be fixed. You can dump kitty litter on the ground where the leak pooled. Do not let your dog go anywhere near the spill.
Antifreeze Poisoning Prevention Checklist:
- Inspect your car’s radiator on a regular basis, and have leaks repaired immediately.
- Propylene glycol is safe, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Look for antifreeze with this ingredient, which can keep your pet safer from ingesting ethylene glycol.
- Do not allow your dog to wander where they may have easy access to antifreeze, such as in driveways, garages, and streets
- Dispose of used antifreeze containers properly.
- Close antifreeze containers tightly, and keep them out of the reach of your dog.
- Ensure any antifreeze spills are immediately and thoroughly cleaned.
As you train your puppy, be consistent and firm to ensure that he never licks puddles in general. A well-trained dog who knows not to lick foreign liquids will be better able to resist lapping up antifreeze.
If your puppy has ingested antifreeze, take him to the vet immediately without delay. It could save his life. It’s also a good idea to keep activated charcoal on hand for instances like this. By giving your puppy activated charcoal to ingest while you hustle him to the vet, you can help his chances of survival.
4) “SALT SICKNESS”
The first snowfall of the season is beautiful. It blankets the neighborhood in sparkling white snowflakes. But we all know this picturesque scene doesn’t last. In the blink of an eye, a winter wonderland can turn into a freezing slush puddle of endless misery! This is thanks to ice-melt salt.
Don’t get us wrong. It’s far more important that streets, roads, and sidewalks are safe to drive and walk on! Salt is the only method of melting the dangerous ice that lurks below those gorgeous blankets of freshly fallen snow. But the ice-melt salt that’s used to keep streets and sidewalks safe poses unique dangers to dogs, including your puppy.
The salt that’s used to melt ice from streets and sidewalks contains large amounts of sodium salts. The chemical composition and also the specific grain size of this type of salt can damage a dog’s paw pads. The grains can get stuck in the pads of the paws, and because salt is abrasive and known to burn, this can cause redness, cracking, and chapping of your puppy’s little paws.
But that’s not all. Dogs that ingest ice-melt salt can get sick. The salt causes mild to severe toxicity that can result in nausea, vomiting, and even neurological symptoms like difficulty walking, muscle tremors, and seizures.
You can prevent ice-melt sickness by carefully washing your puppy’s paws when you return home from a walk around the block. Do not let your puppy lick his paws before you’ve washed them. And be sure to closely examine his paw pads to make sure no salt grains got stuck.
We recommend for your own property, driveway, and sidewalk that you use “pet-friendly” ice melts, which are certified as non-harmful to animals. But even if you use pet-friendly ice melt for your own driveway, steps, and sidewalk, you should still prevent your puppy from licking his paws while on walks, and please routinely clean your puppy’s paws after trips outside.
5) CARBON MONOXIDE POISONING
Carbon monoxide poisoning in dogs occurs when vehicles are left idling and the dog seeks out the warmth of the vehicle’s exhaust. More often than not, carbon monoxide poisoning happens to cats, especially stray cats, as well as rodents. But it can still afflict dogs during specific scenarios, which you can prevent.
It’s common for people to warm up their vehicles remotely prior to them getting in their cars. But when you have domestic animals and / or a puppy, you need to be extremely careful of this method. Even if you remotely start your car with the garage door open, the carbon monoxide from the exhaust can build up in the air. Make sure your puppy and other pets are safely inside the house and cannot get outside where the car is idling.
Even if your car is sitting in the driveway, keep your pets indoors when your vehicle is idling to warm up. Otherwise, your puppy may investigate the exhaust, smell it, and become poisoned.
Carbon monoxide poisoning is also a possibility wherever there’s combustion, which could be inside the home. Wood-burning stoves, open fireplaces, and other indoor heating and cooking systems that use combustion can leech carbon monoxide into the air. Be sure to keep carbon monoxide detectors around your home, and regularly test them before, during, and after the winter months.
Lastly, if you notice lethargy, lack of coordination, or any other peculiar symptoms in your puppy, do not ignore these signs. They could be an indication that there’s a carbon monoxide leak somewhere in the home.
Common Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning in Dogs:
- Lethargy, i.e. your puppy is sleepier or drowsier than usual.
- Irritable behavior, i.e. your puppy displays sudden, unusual behavior such as aggression or anxiety, especially towards noises from children or other pets.
- Difficulty breathing, i.e. your puppy is panting or taking in short, shallow breaths.
- Vomiting, i.e. if your puppy did not eat anything unusual recently, this symptom might be due to carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Uncoordinated movements. Carbon monoxide poisoning in dogs affects the brain, so their movements might be clumsier than usual.
- Refusing to enter the house after being taken outside. If your dog is already bothered by the toxic air, they might refuse to return indoors.
- Cherry-red skin, nostrils, lips, ears, and gums. This is a common side effect of carbon monoxide exposure, but not all dog breeds exhibit it.
- Loss of exercise stamina, i.e. your puppy is less enthusiastic about playtime lately and displays an unusual tolerance to their favorite activities.
If you suspect your puppy has been exposed to carbon monoxide, or if your puppy exhibits any of the above signs, we strongly recommend that you take your puppy to the vet right away. And if you know your puppy has been exposed to carbon monoxide and / or he’s exhibiting all of the above signs, rush your puppy to the emergency vet immediately.
The entire staff at Petland Kansas City wishes you and your new puppy a fun, safe, and happy winter season! If you’re ready for a new puppy, you can meet our available puppies and visit our Overland Park location to take home your furry soulmate.