The cold months of fall are upon us, a time of year when we start to think about hunkering down for the winter. You want to prepare your dog just as much as you want to stock up on hot chocolate and logs for the fire, but there are a lot of myths out there about what you can and can’t do for your dog during the colder months. Let's dive into and debunk these untruths. Here are some of the most common myths:
Myth: My dog is safe in the car during cooler months.
FACT: It is never safe to leave your dog alone in a car, period. Just as a car can magnify heat in the summer sun, it can function as a refrigerator on cool days. Leaving your dog alone also subjects them to other dangers like kidnapping. Even the five-minute store run can put your pet at risk.
Myth: Fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes go away in the fall and winter
FACT: Although fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes may not be able to survive extreme winter temperatures, the cold may drive them towards the warmth of your home. In the south, we have mosquitoes usually year round. Surviving bugs may latch on to your pet for warmth and survival, making them just as much of a threat as they are during warmer parts of the year. Continue to protect your pet as you do in the spring and summer months by using monthly heartworm and flea/tick preventatives.
Myth: My dog’s pads protect them from all elements of weather.
FACT: The fatty tissues in the pads of your dog’s feet do not freeze as quickly as other tissues, protecting them against many cuts, scrapes and scuffs that often come along with the outdoors. However, these tissues do not mean your pet is always protected. Ice, snow and other debris can accumulate or get stuck between your dog’s toes and pads, causing irritation. Be sure to clean your dog’s feet when they come inside, and for extreme conditions, consider protective booties.
Myth: Dogs are more resistant to cold.
FACT: It's a common belief that dogs are more resistant than people to cold weather because of their fur, but it's untrue, says the American Veterinary Medical Association. Dogs are susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia and should be kept inside. Longer-haired and thick-coated dog breeds, such as huskies and other dogs bred for colder climates, are more tolerant of cold weather; but no pet should be left outside for long periods of time in below-freezing weather.
Myth: My dog should gain some extra pounds in the cooler months to help keep warm.
FACT: You should never intentionally try to help your dog gain weight just because of the cooler months. Keep their diet the same during fall and winter months, and make sure they get regular exercise with indoor games and brisk walks. Although some dog’s weight may fluctuate throughout the year, you want to stimulate your pet’s mind and body all year round.
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