Ice and Snow: 7 Tips to Keep Your Dogs Safe in Extreme Cold Weather


Okay we concede that extreme is different in different locations and Lu’s Labs rescues dogs all over the south and brings them up to the north, so some dogs may not like the cold. How can we protect our dogs against extreme weather no matter where we live?

1 - Deciding What’s Too Cold for Your Dog – First off, think about what is too cold for you, and it’s probably too cold for your dog. Weather and wind-chill below 32 Fahrenheit can cause hypothermia and frostbite for your dog. (And of course for you too!)

2 - Stay Indoors -  If anyone knows our rescue, dogs are indoor family members, not outside pets. At least not to us. That means that in extreme whether you shouldn’t be leaving your dogs outdoors and dog houses are not sufficient shelter for a dog. Maybe their ancestors were pack animals that lived outside, but our domestic dogs are not. And when they ran in packs they had other warm bodies to curl up with. Dogs, especially Lu’s Labs, belong inside, by the fireplace, snuggled in your blankets, and, for most of us, on the couch.

3 - Check Your Dog’s Paws – Walking in ice and snow can damage your dog’s paws. Check for cracking and bleeding, and make sure ice is not accumulating between toes. Some people go to extremes and get dog socks or boots, and while this may be helpful in some cases, also examine your dog’s level of comfort. The best course of action is to limit walks in cold weather.

4 - Wipe Down Feet, legs, and Bellies – While walking around your dog can pick up de-icing chemicals, salt, and antifreeze along with other chemicals unsafe for your pets. If you keep dog safe wipes by the door you can wipe down their paws and under carriage and legs to reduce the possibility of poisoning and illness from these harmful chemicals.

5 - Use Pet Safe Chemicals – While you can’t help what your neighbors do, you can help what is in and around your sidewalk and driveway. There are pet safe de-icers out there that will reduce your dog’s exposure to harmful contaminants. Again, try when you can to avoid walking across chemicals. It can cause burns and abrasions to your dog’s paws. Refer back to tip number 4 whenever in doubt.

6 - Avoid Anti-Freeze Spills – It is common practice during winter months to change or top off car coolant and anti-freeze. Chemicals within the anti-freeze have a sweet smell and taste that can seem attractive to your dog yet are extremely toxic when ingested. The ethylene glycol in these substances can cause severe illness and death to pets. Minutes can make a different when it comes to getting your dog help.

7 - Rock Salt Poisoning – Rock salt is a mixture of salt (Sodium Chloride) and grit and is commonly used to de-ice winter roads. It can be harmful to dogs though it’s hard to say how much needs to be ingested in order to cause damage. Ingesting rock salt (And even common table salt) can lead to high blood sodium which can cause thirst, vomiting and lethargic behavior.  In severe cases there is a risk of convulsion and kidney damage. If suspected dogs should be taken to a vet for evaluation.

Bottom line, when in doubt, when it’s cold out, keep your dogs’ exposure to a minimum to severe temperatures. Make sure you have plenty of indoor games and things to keep them occupied. Brain games, toys, and supervised play…otherwise you may just lose a shoe or two while waiting for the winter weather to subside.