We've gathered a few tips and facts from the experts at AKC and Labrador-Central to help you prepare for winter with your Labrador retriever.
• Beware of Antifreeze (Ethylene Glycol): Antifreeze is a liquid that is added to a car’s radiator to prevent freezing. This is extremely toxic and can be deadly even in small amounts. It tastes sweet but can cause severe kidney damage and failure.
Seek veterinary care IMMEDIATELY if suspected ingestion!
• Wipe off paws or have a bucket of water at door: The snow- and ice-melting products used on sidewalks, driveways, and roads are among the biggest threats to your dog’s paw pads. Ice-melting products aren’t just a threat to feet — if your dog licks his paws or gets into a container of de-icer the ingestion may lead to digestive system upset such as drooling, vomiting or diarrhea. To prevent your dog from ingesting de-icer and to reduce irritation to his paw pads, wipe off his paws with a warm, damp towel immediately after coming in
• Be aware of what your pet can tolerate and is acclimated to; Young, old, or health compromised pets have a lower tolerance for very cold weather, especially in sudden changes.
• Don’t leave pets unattended outdoors for an extended time: Hypothermia is a very real concern because it slowly creeps up and can be life-threatening. If a dog must be outside for any period of time, make sure there is adequate protection from the wind, have their beds elevated off the ground and make sure there is good bedding insulation such as straw or cedar shavings.
SO, HOW COLD IS TOO COLD FOR LABRADORS?
Most dog owners only consider the temperature in determining whether their dog is cold or not. You need to know what temperatures make Labradors feel cold. Most dogs will need protection as soon as the temperature falls below 35 degrees Fahrenheit. All dogs, even those immune to cold weather, will start to feel the cold when the temperature falls below 20 degrees Fahrenheit. Take into account a chilly wind. The temperature of, let’s assume, 24 degrees Fahrenheit, might not make your Lab cold, but pair this temperature with a chilly wind, that will directly hit your dog’s skin, this temperature will feel quite cold for it.
LIMIT TIME OUTSIDE
You have to limit your dog’s usual time outside in winters. Being outside for long periods in cold temperatures is detrimental for your dog’s health and can cause health issues as frostbite. Hence, your Lab’s time outside should be limited in winters.
BE AWARE OF FROSTBITE
Frostbite occurs when low temperatures cause extremities to freeze. Even dogs with thick furs are not immune to frostbite. By avoiding prolonged exposures to cold, frostbite is less likely to happen. Even if the dog wants to go outside, make sure that it has a layer of protection through coats or jackets on it. Dogs with chronic illnesses such as diabetes or heart diseases are more at risk of frostbite.
PROVIDE NUTRITIOUS FOOD AND PLENTY OF WATER
It is a fact that shivering uses up more calories than just sitting still. If more of your dog’s calories are being consumed, then you should add extra food to your dog’s diet to make up for the extra calories used.
Your dog can easily get dehydrated in the cold weather. You need to make sure that your dog has fresh, unfrozen water to drink whenever it wants. Make sure your dog’s stomach is full and that your dog is hydrated.
USE INSULATED KENNELS
Using the right kennels/doghouse will keep your dog comfortable and warm. A proper doghouse will keep your Lab cool in summers and warm in winters. Use proper bedding such as straw or shaving and make sure that it is dry. Use a proper windbreak to keep cold air from blowing directly into the kennel. And if at all possible, bring your dog inside in extreme cold or use a proper heating device inside their kennel/doghouse.
Winter is a time for wonderful activities that can be shared with your Labrador, but take the precautions needed to keep your four-legged friend safe and healthy. Take the same precautions with your pets that you do for yourself and your family. Your pet relies on you for its comfort and health, so do your best to keep them safe.