We have reached the coldest months here in the upper Midwest. In fact last week we just had record breaking temperatures of -50°F/-45°C! The coldest it’s been in decades! There was a serious risk of frostbite after being outside for 4 minutes!! This is especially worrisome when you have a dog that needs to go outside to use the bathroom. Yes, your dog has a fur coat, but they have ear tips and paw pads that are not covered (yes it’s a risk even for your heavily double coated husky or malamute, even sled dogs have protection on their runs).
A good Jacket.
I am not talking about those cute sweaters and shirts you see all over, I am talking about a fleece lined, water proof jacket. One that will help hold in heat while keeping your dog’scoat as dry as possible.
Now dogs can tolerate cold on their feet a little more than us bare footed humans because they do have fur around their paws (unless you have a more hairless variety of dogs, they have no protection on their feet) . You need to find boots that fit properly and will not fall off. Good traction is also important, especially in icy conditions. There are also balms you can put on the paw pads to help, the brand I have seen the most is Musher’s Secret. This product helps out a barrier between the paw pads and the ice/snow.
Limit outside activity.
Especially in extreme cold its important to only allow your dog outside as needed. Short trips outside, if your dog does not do their business right away, bring them in, let them warm up and try again a few minutes later. Also be a little more forgiving with accidents, would you really want to use the bathroom in extreme cold and snow? Do more indoor activities, focus on training and mental stimulation. Take a trip to the pet store or any other indoor public places that allow dogs!
If you have outdoor animals, bring them inside or supply some sort of HEATED shelter for them with plenty of warm, dry blankets/bedding. Make sure water sources do not freeze and make sure there is plenty of food.
Use your common sense. If you are cold, they are cold. Dogs and cats can get frostbite just as fast as you can.