Wintertime can mean plenty of fun activities for pet parents and puppies (including the always popular activity of watching your dog discover snow for the first time), but it also means freezing nights, frosty mornings, and lots of cold weather, even for a cold nose and a big fluffy coat.
Contrary to popular belief, dogs cannot more easily withstand the cold just because they have fur coats, and even very thick-coated dogs like Samoyeds, Malamutes and and Norwegian Elkhounds are susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia.
On a very cold Minnesota day, one local man spotted a shivering dog left alone outside while on his way to the post office, and what he did for the poor dog will warm your heart.
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A woman had left her dog outside while she was in the post office, and on that day, it happened to be a frigid -20 degrees Farenheit outside. The man who spotted the dog kneeled down on the ground and wrapped his arms around the pooch, who was shaking violently, and held him to keep him warm until his owner returned.
The look on this poor pup’s face truly says it all. It is very dangerous to leave a dog alone in the cold, especially in below freezing weather.
This dog had someone to sit with him and help him keep warm, but not all dogs in this country are so lucky.
The Humane Society of America reports a marked increase in recent years in the number of dogs and cats left outside in the cold alone. Cold weather can be deadly for animals, and owners are at risk of facing criminal charges for not providing adequate food and shelter.
It is very important to say something if you see an animal stranded in the cold. Take note of the exact location, time, date, and position you have found them in, and if possible, take photos that you can share with local authorities.
Signs of hypothermia and frostbite include:
- Weak pulse
- Barking and crying to come inside
- Ears and feet that are cold to the touch
- Low body temperature (below 95 degrees)
Hypothermia occurs when an animal is unable to keep its body temperature from falling below normal, while frostbite happens when an animal becomes so cold that it pulls all of the blood from its extremities to keep warm. Tissue damage may not be obvious or apparent for several days, so if you suspect that your dog may have frostbite, take them to the vet ASAP.
Freezing dogs may also look for places to burrow to get warm. In extreme cases, animals can go into a coma or even die from extended exposure to the cold.
To revive a freezing dog, get them inside immediately and slowly warm them up by wrapping them in blankets. Doing so too quickly may cause their body to go into shock. Bring them to a vet who can assess their health, monitor their pulse and heart rate, and administer warm fluids through an IV.
Remember: if it is too cold for you to be outside, then it is too cold for a dog or cat. Minimize the amount of time they spend outside, and make sure to be with them at all times.
If you see a dog you suspect has frostbite or hypothermia and are unsure of what to do, call the Humane Society of the United States at 202-452-1100 or 866-720-2676 Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 11 p.m., or Saturday and Sunday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern time.
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