4 Wintertime Pet-Related Myths That Can be Harmful

December 22, 2015

winter myths jasonBy Linda Cole

A myth is a belief that something is true, even though there usually isn’t any proof to back up the claim. Nonetheless, people sometimes do believe a myth, especially if it seems reasonable. Unfortunately, some pet-related wintertime myths can be harmful to our four legged friends.

Fur Coats Protect Dogs and Cats from Cold

Northern dog breeds were developed to withstand harsh winter temperatures, but that doesn’t mean your pet Siberian Husky should live outside in the cold. A dog’s ability to endure winter weather depends on the thickness and condition of his coat, height of the dog, body fat, age, activity level and overall health. Smaller dogs and cats are more susceptible to colder temperatures because they are closer to the ground. No matter how thick a pet’s coat is, it doesn’t protect them from hypothermia or frostbite.

Dogs and cats are both at risk of developing frostbite on their nose, ears, tail and paw pads when left outside in freezing weather. If it’s too cold outside for you, it’s too cold for your dog or cat to stay out. A good rule of thumb to follow: if you are shivering when outdoors, your pet is probably ready to go inside, too.

Pets with diabetes, heart disease and other medical conditions that can affect blood flow are at a greater risk of frostbite and have a harder time dealing with the cold, as do short-haired dogs, puppies and seniors. Never leave pets outside for extended periods in below freezing temperatures.

It’s Safe to Leave a Pet in the Car

We are reminded each summer about the danger of leaving a pet inside a car when it’s hot outside; however, winter months are also dangerous. The temperature inside a car Cat-Animatedcan drop quickly and become deadly for a pet trapped inside. Leaving the motor running is a really bad idea because that puts a pet at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. There’s nothing wrong with taking your pet for a ride, but leaving him unattended in the car any time of the year should be avoided.

Pets Don’t Need Exercise in Winter

Some canines enjoy outdoor wintertime activities, while others prefer snuggling next to their owner on the couch. Most dogs do, however, look forward to getting outside for daily walks or a romp in their enclosure. Year round exercise is important to help maintain a healthy weight, especially during winter months when the cold keeps you and your dog inside. One way to make sure your dog or cat gets daily exercise in the wintertime is to play hide and seek with their CANIDAE treats or kibble. They get some exercise, both physical and mental, and you get to stay inside where it’s warm.

Coats and Booties Aren’t Necessary

A proper dog coat should cover your pet from his neck to the base of his tail, and his chest and tummy. You can purchase one or make a warm winter coat for your dog. An insulated sweater or coat provides protection from the cold, especially for dogs that are short, older, have short coats or a medical condition. Felines aren’t so keen on wearing coats or sweaters, however. A word of caution: don’t put a coat on your pet when you can’t be around to monitor him. Coats and sweaters can get caught on things and could become a risk for a dog trying to escape if his garment gets snagged on something.

The paw pads of dogs contain fatty tissue that helps keep them from losing heat quickly, but a dog’s feet can still get cold if he’s outside too long. When contending with snow winter myths jonand below freezing temps, it takes only minutes for most dogs to get frozen paws. Blood vessels in a dog’s paw pads constrict and circulate blood away from the extremities to the body core to help keep vital organs warm.

Because felines evolved in a warmer region of the world, they never developed a system in their feet like dogs did, which makes cats even more vulnerable to the cold. You might think your kitty is happy outside in the snow, but most would prefer a warm bed inside.

Booties protect a dog’s feet from getting cut on ice or hard jagged snow. Snow, ice, small rocks and other debris can collect between the paw pads and toes and cause painful cuts. Boots also prevent your dog from getting salt and chemical ice melt on their feet, which can be toxic if ingested when grooming their feet after a walk.

Top photo by Jason Riedy/Flickr
Bottom photo by Jon Hurd/Flickr

Read more articles by Linda Cole

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