Why Do Dogs tolerate winter weather better than others? by Katelyn Schutz CPDT
Ever wonder why your pooch never seems to mind the boundless snowfall in winter? Curious why perhaps your other dog refuses to go out to even potty in colder temperatures? Wonder why some dogs can tolerate winter weather better than us?
Thermoregulation is how an animal maintains a normal body temperature. Dogs have a higher basil metabolic rate than us, so their normal body temperatures typically range between 100-103 degrees F. Canines use different mechanisms to thermoregulate, such as panting and sweating (through the pads of their feet and inside their ears). Their skin and coat are a big factor in how well they can maintain body temperatures as well, in addition to how much body fat they have.
Through selective breeding, we have a plethora of dogs with different fur coats and body fat indexes. This makes some breeds more or less receptive to cold temperatures. For example, the Alaskan Malamute and Husky were bred to be well-muscled, accompanied with a dense double coat to protect them from the elements, making them more stable for winter work such as pulling sleds. Their outer coats are coarse and help shield off environmental hazards like snow and wind, while their undercoat is soft and wool-like to keep them warm. Several other breeds (such as many of the Retrievers, the Great Pyrenees, or the Newfoundland to name a few...) have a dense undercoat, often water-proof, that allow them to be more resilient in winter weather.
Conversely, there are many dogs out there with thin coats and leaner body fat indexes that do not tolerate cold weather at all. Greyhounds, Whippets, and Vizslas are a good example of this. In the case of thermoregulation, size matters! Smaller dogs do not retain their heat as well as larger dogs. The short-coated Chihuahua, Boston Terrier, Miniature Pincher, and the Rat Terrier come to mind here as smaller thin-coated dogs who prefer warmer climates.
So what can you do to protect your dog from the elements? Start with short walks and visits outside during the winter. If you have a professional dog walker, suggest they spend more time inside playing and snuggling with your pup instead of long walks. Perhaps invest in a doggie jacket or sweater for your pooch. The market has boomed with winter weather wear for our dogs, ranging from water and snow proof, to simply fashionable :)
And don't forget to protect your dog's paws! After all, one of the canine's main sources of thermoregulation is the pads of their feet. Consider trying doggie boots if your dog will tolerate wearing them. I suggest trying Protex PawZ all-natural rubber booties - reusable, disposable, and waterproof! For a boot that is a bit warmer and insulated, try Pawtectors or doggie UGGS.
When I am out doing professional dog walking, I always carry Musher's Secret with me for the pets I care for. It's a mixture of all-natural waxes that you apply to the pads of the feet prior to a walk. It creates a dense barrier that forms a breathable bond with your dog's paws, allowing superior protect from things like salt burn, snow balling in the fur, ice, and even hot pavement. It is safe, non-toxic, and will not stain fabrics or carpets. Economical and easy to apply, this is the product I prefer to use with my own dogs prior to a winter walk.
Sending WARM wishes your way!
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