5 Winter Dog Dangers All Dog Owners Need to Know

two bernese mountain dog puppies in the snow

Between cold temperatures, chemicals, and more, winter can pose a lot of hazards to both you and your dog. It’s important for both of you to stay safe and be aware of potential dangers in order to avoid them. Here are some winter dog dangers all dog owners need to know:

1. Poor Visibility

Winter brings cold temperatures, harsh weather, and also fewer daylight hours, which means low and poor visibility for you, your dog, and others while outside. This can increase the risk of slips and falls for you and your dog while out on walks. Poor visibility can also increase the risk of road traffic accidents.

If you have to walk your dog near a road in the dark, there is also poor visibility for drivers, which can increase the risk of them potentially hitting you or your dog. Wearing reflective gear and carrying a flashlight are just a few safety tips for walking your dog in the dark you can use to combat poor visibility during the winter.

2. Hypothermia

Many dog breeds, especially small breeds, senior dogs, and those with short, thin fur, get cold easily. As the temperatures drop, they may need some extra help staying warm while out on walks. As temperatures drop below freezing, it’s important for both you and your dog to bundle up to avoid hypothermia. The exceptions to this rule are arctic and cold-weather breeds like Siberian Huskies, Saint Bernards, and more that have thick coats to keep them insulated.

If your dog is not an arctic or cold-weather breed, putting on a dog sweater or dog coat can help your pooch maintain some body heat while they are outside. But, if your dog’s sweater gets wet from cold rain or snow, it’s important to remove it once you come inside. If their fur is wet, it’s generally a good idea to towel them off once they’re inside as well. Also, you want to make sure you only put a dry sweater on your dog when you have to go outside again. A cold, wet sweater or fur doesn’t do your pup any favors, especially out in the cold where it increases their risk for hypothermia and other issues.

3. Frostbite

Dog paws are not immune to frostbite and getting frostbite while out on a walk in the cold can happen. In addition to frostbite concerns, snow and ice can also ball up and get stuck in the space between their toes and paw pads, which can make movement painful. You wear socks and boots when you venture out into the snow and cold to protect your feet and your pup’s paw pads are no different. Dog boots and paw wax protect your dog’s paw pads from the cold and they also protect them from getting harsh and dangerous winter chemicals like antifreeze and some ice melts on their paws.

4. Harsh Winter Chemicals

There are a lot of chemicals that pop up during the winter that can be very dangerous, if not fatal, to your dog. Ice melts and many road chemicals are harsh and can make your dog sick if ingested, which most commonly happens when dogs lick their paws after a walk. Outfitting your dog with dog boots while outdoors and wiping their paws clean when they come inside can help prevent the potential ingestion of chemicals.

Antifreeze is Dangerous

Antifreeze is a big danger to dogs. It tends to have a sweet taste to dogs, but can be fatal if ingested and not immediately treated. Antifreeze contains ethylene glycol, which poisons your dog and can be fatal within 72 hours. Because this substance can sometimes be found on driveways and anywhere you walk your dog that shares space with cars, it’s important to know the signs of antifreeze poisoning, so you can get your dog help as soon as possible.

Within 30 minutes to 12 hours of consumption, your dog may stumble and appear “drunk”. They may also be drooling excessively and vomiting. It’s important to get your dog to the vet for help as soon as you see these signs as serious internal injury tends to occur within 12 to 24 hours. If left untreated, acute kidney failure sometimes accompanied by seizures or coma occurs within 36 and 72 hours.

5. Dehydration

It’s important to make sure your dog has access to plenty of water during the winter. Winter weather is often very dry weather and causes dogs to lose a lot of moisture through their breath, which can quickly lead to dehydration. By giving your dog plenty of water to drink before and after walks, you can help make sure they stay hydrated.

These are just a few of the major winter dog dangers to be aware of and to avoid in order to keep your dog safe during the winter. Even if your dog is built for the cold and loves to lay in the snow, you’ll still need to keep an eye out for these dangers and help protect your pup.