Chicago winters get extremely cold. It’s not unusual to see highs that range around the freezing mark. In 1985, temperatures in the city plunged to -17 degrees Fahrenheit. Cold winters are rough on humans, and they can also be rough on animals. Those fur coats may offer some protection, but when temperatures plummet, the cold can get to them. Fortunately, there are things you can do to keep your pets comfortable. In this article, we’ll share actionable tips for Winter Dog Care in Chicago
How Cold is Too Cold?
Dogs’ fur coats offer some protection against the cold, but when temperatures hover near freezing, they will begin to feel the effects. So how cold is too cold for your dog?
Tolerance will vary depending on your dog’s breed, size, fur, body fat, and overall health. However, there are some general guidelines to follow.
- Most dogs become uncomfortable when temperatures hit 45 degrees Fahrenheit
- Dogs that are small, young, old, sick, or thin-coated should not be exposed to temperatures below 32 degrees Fahrenheit for extended periods
- All dogs will become vulnerable to hypothermia and frostbite when temperatures drop to 20 degrees Fahrenheit
What are the Signs That Your Dog is Getting Too Cold?
If your dog is getting too cold, they may:
- Walk slowly
- Cramp up their posture
- Huddle close to your leg or seek out another heat source
What Happens When Your Dog Gets Too Cold?
If your dog is exposed to cold temperatures for extended periods, the following conditions could occur:
Hypothermia: Hypothermia occurs when a dog’s body temperature falls between 90-99 degrees Fahrenheit. The condition will worsen the more their body temperature drops. Signs of hypothermia include:
- Rapid breathing and heart rate followed by slower, shallower breathing and heart rate
- Dilated pupils
- Loss of consciousness
Hypothermia can also result in death.
Frostbite: Frostbite occurs when temperatures drop and damage the skin and tissues. When temperatures fall below freezing, the blood vessels in a dog’s skin can narrow and constrict. The body responds by sending blood towards the core and away from the extremities. The condition can cause serious tissue injuries.
Signs of frostbite include:
- Skin discoloration- the skin may turn gray or blue
- Affected areas become cold and brittle
- Pain and swelling in affected areas
- Blisters and skin ulcers
- Patches of blackened or dead skin
Winter Dog Care Chicago: How to Keep Your Dog Protected
Steps to take to keep your dog protected from the cold when temperatures plummet include:
- Limit Outside Time: Dogs love to go outside. They especially get excited when it snows. But it’s important to limit your dog’s outdoor time during the winter. Introduce indoor games to keep them stimulated.
- Bundle Your Dog Up: Keep your dog bundled up during outdoor romps. Dress them in a warm coat. You should also protect their paws by giving them booties to wear.
- Consider a Heated Dog Beds: Indoor areas can get drafty too. But your dog will be safe and warm when they cuddle in a heated dog bed. Some claim that heated beds are unsafe for dogs, but this is not true. Search for ones with an automatic shutoff to ensure safety.
- Trim Foot Fur: The hair on a long-haired dog’s feet can freeze when they walk outside. You can prevent freezing by keeping your hair trimmed. If you have trouble keeping your dog groomed, a professional dog groomer can help.
- Keep Your Dog’s Feet Protected: Chicago streets may be coated with substances like sodium chloride (rock salt) which can damage paws. Prevent damage by cleaning your dog’s feet as soon as they come inside. Use warm water to thoroughly clean their paws. Make sure to get in between their toes and pads. Follow up with a paw balm that will moisturize their skin.
K9U Will Help Your Dog Get Through a Cold Winter
K9U ensures your dog will have a safe, fun winter. Enroll your dog in our Doggie Daycare Program. They will gain access to a 29,000 square foot play area which includes almost 14,000 feet of indoor play. Your dog will enjoy supervised playtime in a climate-controlled environment.
Chicago winters can be tough on a dog. But a combination of fun indoor activities and preventative measures will keep them safe and comfortable. K9U offers several programs that will keep your dog healthy this winter. Contact us to discover the best way to ensure your dog has fun when temperatures drop.