- GENERALLY SPEAKING, ARE DOGS SENSITIVE TO COLD?
Dr. Hélène Jacques: Generally speaking, no. A dog's coat is as effective a thermal insulator as a down jacket, especially since it naturally thickens with the arrival of winter. But sensitivity to cold varies from one animal to another: it depends on its age, health, breed, and lifestyle. In general, the smaller the dog, the greater the heat loss through its skin, and the faster it gets cold.
- WHICH DOGS ARE BEST ABLE TO WITHSTAND WINTER?
Dr. Hélène Jacques: Those who live outside all year long. Hardy dogs (huskies, German shepherds, Beaucerons, Newfoundlands...) who are used to sleeping in a kennel, can handle winter well, as long as they are in good health and have a shelter adapted to their size (not too big to avoid heat loss), well insulated from the wind and rain. If your pet spends the night outside, install a straw or a blanket on the ground in its kennel and increase its food ration by 10 to 20%. The colder it is, the more energy it uses to regulate its temperature and stay in shape.
- AND THOSE WHO LIVE INSIDE?
Dr. Hélène Jacques: It's different. Those who spend the day on a couch or near a radiator are sensitive to sudden temperature changes. Small breed dogs (Chihuahuas, Yorkies, Toy Poodles...), short-haired or naked dogs (greyhounds, bare-skinned Mexicans), and older dogs are prone to winter illnesses, such as rhinitis, tracheitis, bronchitis, or pneumonia. But be careful not to confuse the symptoms: an older dog that coughs may also have a heart condition... In any case, it is better to consult a veterinarian.
- FOR SMALL BREEDS, DO YOU RECOMMEND WEARING A COAT?
Dr Hélène Jacques : Yes. The coat is perfectly justified for small dogs. You just have to choose a model adapted to the size of your pet so that there is no discomfort or rubbing. For older dogs, you just have to limit the time spent walking to avoid tiring them too much when it is cold.
- AND WHEN IT SNOWS, WHAT PRECAUTIONS SHOULD BE TAKEN?
Dr. Hélène Jacques: If your dog likes to play in the snow, let him do so. But don't forget to examine and dry his paws each time you come back from a walk to remove the little pieces of ice stuck between his paw pads. Ice can cause frostbite or painful micro-cuts, especially when it comes into contact with snow removal salt. If the ground is frozen, you can also protect your dog's paw pads with a tanning lotion (available from veterinarians).
- IS IT SERIOUS IF HE EATS SNOW?
Dr. Hélène Jacques: It is difficult to prevent a dog from eating snow, but it is better to avoid it. Ingestion of large amounts of snow often triggers severe gastritis (called snow gastritis) and diarrhea. As a preventive measure, give your dog regular drinks of cold, but not icy, water: if he's not thirsty when he goes for a walk, he will be less tempted.