During the winter season, dogs are susceptible to many different kinds of illnesses. Therefore, to ensure a healthy run throughout the season, pet owners should take special precautions for their dogs.
Here are the 5 common winter dog illnesses ( and how to treat them ).
Just like with us humans, even dogs suffer from hypothermia. This condition causes the body temperature levels to get low when a dog spends too much time in a cold environment, or when a dog with poor health gets exposed to cold temperatures. Dogs with diagnosis such as diabetes and heart ailments, are more prone to this condition; this is because they’ve a tough time maintaining their body temperatures when exposed to cold weather for a long period of time.
Some of the symptoms of hypothermia in dogs can include, but not limited to; shivering, weakness, lethargy, restlessness, and depression. If the condition progresses, the dog’s muscles may stiffen, the breathing and heart rates may slow down, and he might even stop responding to stimuli. To check if your dog has hypothermia, take his temperature using a rectal thermometer; any reading that’s below 95 degrees Fahrenheit shows that he has hypothermia. If you happen to suspect that your dog has the condition, you should get to the nearest veterinarian clinic. In the meantime, you can try to raise the dog’s body temperature using some warm blankets or towel wrapped hot water bottle. A warm bath can also help.
Frostbite happens when a dog’s body gets too cold and pulls all of the blood from the extremities, to the center of their body in order to keep warm. The dog’s paws, tail and ears can get so cold that ice crystals can actually start forming in the tissues, causing damage. The severity of the damage depends on the dog’s age, size, amount of time spent in the cold temperatures and fur thickness. That said, it’s important to note that frostbite isn’t immediately obvious. The affected tissues do not show any signs of damage for a couple of days.
If you suspect that your dog has frostbite, you should bring him to a warm environment immediately, and then apply warm water to all of the affected areas to melt away the ice crystals, and restore blood circulation. Do not massage the frostbitten areas, because this can cause a lot of pain. When the dog warms up, you can wrap him in warm blankets and take him to the nearest vet clinic. The vet can assess the extent of damage and treat the dog for pain and/or infection (if necessary).
3. The Sniffles
Just like humans, dogs can catch the sniffles in the winter. It’s a minor upper respiratory infection, where your dog can get a runny nose, a slight cough, watery eyes, lethargy and a little fatigue and occasional sneezing..
Sniffles can be treated just the same way you’d for you baby; plenty of rest, warm blankets and drinking a lot of water. You can even feed your dog some chicken noodle soup, but make sure you remove all the bones first. You can also place a humidifier in the dog’s room to help their slight cough. If you do not have a humidifier, you can take him into the bathroom while you shower; the steam will actually have the same effect. If the symptoms do not improve within a couple of days, consider making an appointment with your local veterinarian, because some stubborn sniffles may require antibiotics. Remember to keep your sick dog quarantined from the healthy pets.
4. Flu and Pneumonia
Flu and pneumonia usually affect elderly dogs and young puppies the most, but any dog which has spent a lot of time in the rain or snow can catch this rather viral infection. Symptoms of this condition (in the mild form), can include; dry or moist coughs, runny nose, and sneezing. The more severe symptoms can include; bloody coughs, fever, runny eyes, breathing problems, ear infections, anorexia, among others. If you happen to notice these symptoms, you should try to keep your dog warm, and take him to the nearest vet for treatment.
5. Kennel Cough
During winter, dogs are susceptible to kennel cough, (also known as canine infectious tracheo-bronchitis), because of the way it spreads. A virus and a bacteria are responsible for this condition. The winter temperatures, boarding facilities, inhaling smoke and stress all increase the risk of developing this condition. The common symptoms of kennel cough can include; a honking dry cough, eye discharge and runny nose.
To treat a minor kennel cough, you can use a humidifier or home steam treatment. However, if the condition persists after 3 weeks, you should visit your local veterinarian for diagnosis and treatment.
June is the founder of TobysBone, where she shares her passion for writing and love for dogs. She wants to help you deal with your dog’s behavior issues, grooming and health needs, and proper training. Through her blog, you can find informative and reliable posts, tips and tricks, and a lot of interesting reads that will help you maintain a close bond with your furry companion.