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Snow dogs

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Hypothermia and frost bite- what do these two items have in common? Both can be hazardous to humans and dogs, only people won't lose their tails! As temperatures drop and snow fall increases, be mindful of the harm caused by extreme exposure to your pet. I'm not saying that it is futile to take Fido out for a stroll but use common sense when doing so.

Frostbite primarily affects the ears, tail, and feet of cats and dogs. Provide adequate shelter or keep your pet indoors during sub-zero temperatures. Frostbitten tissue may initially appear pale or gray, as well as hard and cold. As the area thaws, it may turn red. Thawing is very painful. If frostbite is severe, the tissue will eventually turn black and slough off. Seek veterinary advice for any of these cases.

Hypothermia is having an extremely low temperature (under 98.0F) in the body leading to complications and if left untreated, can become fatal. The first sign of hypothermia is paleness and strong shivering. This may be followed by listlessness to the point of lethargy and frostbite of certain body parts such as the tail, tips of the ears, scrotum, and paws. If left untreated, coma and heart failure may occur.

In some parts of the country, like in Alaskan sled dogs, boots are fitted to the paws to reduce exposure to the extreme temperatures. If you decide to get your dog a pair of boots to protect his/her paws, take small steps to ensure that your pooch is okay with wearing them. You may want to practice putting them on one at a time at the same time playing with their feet so they get use to the feel. Try all four boots on inside the house letting your dog get use to the feel of them on their feet without them flinging boots across your living room in a panic. Some other dogs might just "freeze" in place refusing to move when first introduced to the boot idea. Move slowly with this new idea. You want them to like the boots and enjoy going outdoors for some fun in the white fluffy stuff. Just remember to keep your pet warm, dry, and safe from frostbite this frosty season!

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