Watch Tip: Too Cold to Run?

Posted on February 6th, 2010 by Anna Nirva

Weekly Watch Tip for Week of Feb. 7:

Watch for dogs running (exercising) with owners in frigid weather. Paws and lung tissue can freeze and dogs might not show obvious signs of distress. Speak with the owner.

Dogs and cats and other animals are not invincible!

Without thinking too much about it, many people seem to believe that animals have abilities to withstand nature’s worst, just because they are animals. Nothing could be further from the truth. Companion animals, domesticated animals, and wild animals are vulnerable to extreme weather to extents that are determined by type and breed, and also by the individual animal’s knowledge and experience. I’ve written this before: extreme winter weather will kill even healthy heavy-coated buffalo.

Runners in bitter winter weather might wear excellent gear from head to foot, complete with eye, nose, and mouth protection, and not consider for a moment their dog’s paws or lungs. And their valiant dogs might not show obvious signs of distress before collapsing. (Sled dog types are less susceptible to suffering in extreme cold weather.)

These runners might be intelligent, responsible pet guardians in most ways; they might love their companion animals very much. But could they have incorrect assumptions about animal invincibility? Yes, and vet clinics treat the four-legged victims of this misconception often during cold snaps.

Shout out if you see runners and their dogs braving the fierce winter cold to say that dog lungs can freeze. Even if you don’t appear to have an immediate impact, hopefully the runner will watch more closely for signs of discomfort in their dog.

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