Frigid Weather Dangers For Dogs
Frigid Weather Dangers For Dogs
Recently, new laws have been adopted that make it illegal to leave your pet outside in cold weather for over 30 minutes.
And, oddly (in my opinion), many people are up in arms about this new law!
A Maryland law, even makes it illegal to leave livestock outside in extreme temperatures.
Livestock must have a place to get out of the wind, and access to clean dry bedding that would protect them from frost bite.
What They Are Saying
Many owners of large coated dogs (Malamutes, Great Pyrenees, Akitas and the like) say that their dogs live for cold weather and are angry that the law is trying to dictate how to handle their animals in the cold.
One dog owner (on Facebook) said her dog is miserable and paces if brought inside the house for too long during this time of year.
On Some Level
On some level, I can understand what these dog owners are saying.
I had a dog, several years ago, that would scream (in pure joy) when he would wake up in the middle of the night and see snow fall.
He absolutely LOVED playing in the snow and scooping it up with his snout and plowing it over his head.
I also enjoy the video of the Labrador Retriever sliding down the snow on his belly.
Many dogs DO love the cold and the snow.
I think many dogs also tolerate the cold weather better than they tolerate the heat.
Extreme Weather Poses Danger For Dogs
But, the truth is that extreme weather (be it cold or hot) poses substantial danger to your pet.
Each year, many dogs freeze to death in the cold.
Sadly, many of these dogs freeze to sidewalks and other surfaces.
The dog lies down and his body heat warms the snow underneath him causing slushy conditions; then when the temperature continues to drop the dog can literally freeze to the spot he once found some comfort.
And, if the human is used to leaving the dog outside and is not used to regularly checking on the dog or bringing the dog inside he/she is less apt to realize the temperature has dropped and the dog is in danger of dying.
After all, I don’t pay much attention to the outside temperature until I have to go outside in it. And, often I underestimate the cold until I am halfway to my destination.
We, as people get busy.
That is Why I am All for This Law!
That doesn’t mean you can’t take your dog outside and let him play in the snow!
If he is active, walking, running or playing he will stay warm longer.
And, if you are outside with him; chances are you will “tap” and want to go inside due to cold temperatures before he will.
30 minutes is a reasonable amount of time when a dog is inactive.
Dogs don’t run around and exercise themselves, nor do they understand that when they are cold, activity is what will make them warmer.
Often they curl up and try to get warm, and this poses a problem after a period of time.
It is our job as dog owners to ensure that our dogs are safe, despite what they think they want.
How many of you have children who want to go out and play in the snow without adequate coats, mittens, boots, etc.?
It is your job as a parent to make sure that your child doesn’t get frostbite, just like it is your job as a pet owner to make sure that your dog or cat doesn’t put himself at risk.
He doesn’t understand that he might die if he is left outside too long.
If You Have a Heavy Coated Dog
If you have a heavy coated dog, don’t be discouraged.
Go outside with your buddy and get some exercise.
I love, love, love long walks in the snow!
When the temperatures are extreme bring him inside and turn down your heat.
Yes, just like I often make the car temperatures too cold in the summer for my liking, to keep my dog comfortable, I can also turn down the heat for my dog in the winter.
As a human, I can bundle up under a blanket or put a space heater near me to make sure my furry friend is more comfortable.
You can also make him a space of solace in a mud room or room that doesn’t have active heat.
If he hates being inside, exercise him outside and make sure he is tired when he comes in so that he naps.
Give him a bone or an elk antler to chew while he is inside.
And, take him out to play often but stay out with him so that you monitor his well being in the cold.
The point is to give your furry friend a place to get out of the wind and extreme temperatures. And a place where he can have water and food that isn’t frozen.
In Regards to Livestock
People seem to get even angrier about the implications that this has on livestock.
But extreme cold kills, and maims livestock too!
If these animals were left to their own devices, they would migrate to low lying spots like a ravine, gulley or gulch where they could bed down and huddle out of the wind. They might also find a wooded area that would break the wind around them.
The problem is that we leave them on a small area of land which limits their ability to wander and find security.
If you have livestock, you owe it to them to provide them with a space that they can get out of extreme weather!
No one is saying to bring your cow into your house, but it is your job to provide food, water, and shelter.
What do you think?
I have been a professional dog trainer and pet sitter for over 20 years. I am a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, through the international Certification Counsel of Professional Dog Trainers. I have trained and worked with police, Schutzhund and personal protection dogs. I trained Assistance Dogs in a men’s prison and ran my own nonprofit organization to take adult dogs from shelters and to train them to assist children and adults with disabilities, at no charge to my clients. My nonprofit organization and I were nominated for several awards of merit and even made the front page of the Denver Post. I was a veterinary technician for many years, where I learned about all aspects of health and preventative medicine. I have trained and worked with exotic animals and cheetahs. I introduced a temperament testing program in my local shelter and sat on the board of directors. I volunteered with my dog “Mr. Snitch” and helped local children learn to read. I have attained obedience titles and several blue ribbons. I am constantly in search of ways to continue my education and excellence when it comes to animals, their behavior and their health.