In the last 30,000 to 40,000 years, humans have learned to live symbiotically with wolves while growing and evolving ourselves. As a result, domestication altered the genetic code of the wolf. Humans slowly began to care and provide for them and in return they offered protection.
Wolves slowly learned how to communicate with us, creating the social evolution of the canines we see today. Not only have dogs evolved socially through the last 30,000 years of living with humans but they have evolved physically, inhibiting many breeds we call pets today to live in the harsh conditions their predecessors lived in.
We all know not to leave our dogs in the car on a hot summer day and we should treat winter months in the same way; protecting our loved ones from the cold, ice, salt, and de-icers, as they all pose serious threats to our pets’ health. Winter is a time when our dogs need a little extra care.
Does cold weather affect Dogs and Humans in the same way?
Cold weather can be an issue for many dogs that don’t have at least one of the following:
- An extra layer of fat
- Fur meant to protect them in cold temperatures
- Not a large breed
- Winter coat, sweater or booties.
Humans and dogs are affected by the cold in many similar ways. We both have weakened nasal and respiratory defenses. The blood from our extremities (hands, feet, ears) retreat to vital organs. Paired with slowed breathing and heart rate, this ultimately leads to death by hypothermia. The greatest similarity between both humans and dogs is that we both shake and shiver when we are cold, so it is easy to spot a cold dog.
“Cold Adverse dogs begin to feel cold at temperatures below 45 °F/7°C. Use our DOGORA Chill Chart to help you understand when your dog will feel the cold.”
Although many canines are equipped with a warm fur coat and tough paw pads, they are still vulnerable to sub-zero temperatures. Smaller breeds are at a bigger disadvantage when compared to their larger counterparts. Their greater skin surface area-to-volume ratio weakens their ability to retain heat. This decreases the amount of overall heat conserved. You can counter this effect with the use of winter garments and boots – and you get to play a little “dress-up.” In fact, watching your dog take their first few steps in new boots is quite amusing.
Understanding your dog’s needs in winter, coupled with the use of winter garments and boots, will let you and your dog enjoy the weather for far longer than without them, while helping them retain their body heat. Get outside and enjoy yourselves all year ‘round!
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Nicholas Mozas is Founder and CEO of DOGORA. He is a graduate of the University of Guelph in Biological Science and holds an M.Sc. in Neutragenomics. Nicholas managed an Animal Hospital after graduation, gaining a better understanding of pets’ and owners’ needs. Find out more at www.dogora.ca