Talking With Pet Doctors

Common Winter Hazards For Your Dog

by Christy Adams

Winter can be a wonderful and fun time for your dog, but it can also be dangerous in some ways There are several potentially life-threatening hazards that are more present in winter than in summer. Therefore, it's important that you take precautions before you let your dog out to play in the snow. Here are some of the most common winter hazards and how you can avoid them.

Ice Melts

The chemicals that your town or city uses to keep the roads and sidewalks ice-free can actually hurt your dog's feet. Many of these melts have a high concentration of salt and other chemicals that can also make your dog sick if he or she ingests it through licking. Make sure you wipe down or wash your dog's feet whenever you come in from a winter walk. You can also get booties or foot protectors, but some dogs won't tolerate anything on their feet.


The chemistry in many types of antifreeze has changed in recent years to make it less attractive and more bitter-tasting to animals. However, it is still not completely safe. If your dog drinks even a small amount, he or she could have kidney damage or even worse. Be sure to keep your dog away from any car that is leaking fluids.


While your dog's coat can provide some protection, it can be also affected by heavy or melting snow. Dogs with short hair or who are elderly are more likely to get hypothermia. Signs of hypothermia include shivering, dilated pupils, lethargy, and pale gums and eyelids. Limit your dog's time outdoors on particularly cold, wet days. If your dog is showing signs of mild hypothermia, bring him or her inside and wrap him or her with warm towels and blankets. Warm water bottles placed inside the blankets is also helpful.


Exposed areas or areas with very short hair, such as the nose, paws, and ears, can easily get frostbite. When severe frostbite is not treated, it can result in tissue damage and require a veterinarian's treatment. For mild frostbite, move your dog to a warm, dry area and slowly warm the area with a warm compress. Do not apply direct heat (such as with a heating pad) and don't rub or press on the affected area.

While it's not practical to keep your dog inside all the time for the entire winter, it is important that you protect your dog from the cold. Make sure you have adequate, warm and dry shelter for your dog whenever they need it. If your dog ends up getting injured or sick from being outside in the winter, then visit a professional veterinarian immediately.