Winter is here! Already, this winter, we have experienced much lower low temperatures and the next few months will see snow, ice and cold winds. While most of us who have greyhounds know that they need special care in the winter, we still want to send along some advice for keeping your hounds safe, warm and healthy.
Since most of our greyhounds (or at least we hope ALL) greyhounds are indoors most of the time, they are not used to going outside in frigid temperatures and their thin skin and lack of thick fur makes them more vulnerable to the frigid temperatures that winter brings.
Frostbite – Even though greyhounds have a fur coat, it is extremely thin and will not protect them from extreme elements. Most greyhounds cannot endure temperatures below freezing for more than 10 to 15 minutes. Greyhounds left outdoors can get frostbite and even freeze to death much sooner than other breeds of dogs that have heavier coats. Signs of frostbite include pale skin that is cool to the touch, with decreased sensation in the affected area. If you suspect frostbite, gently warm the area with warm – not hot – water and then take your greyhound to your veterinarian. Once an area has been frozen it becomes more susceptible to cold and frostbite. The bottom line is: do not allow your greyhound to stay outside long enough to put it in to any jeopardy!
If you have to go out for any length of time, please put a coat on your greyhound. Our rule of thumb is that, if we need a coat, our greyhound needs a coat. There are many coat makers around and it’s very easy to find them on the internet. If you cannot afford a coat but need one, please contact us immediately. We keep a stack of donated coats that we’d be happy to share with you!
Antifreeze: Although most people are aware of the fact that antifreeze is toxic to dogs, veterinarians still report that it continues to be a wide spread problem. We are sending along a reminder to keep garage floors and driveways clear of antifreeze spills and do not allow open containers of antifreeze anywhere near where your greyhound travels. If you suspect that your greyhound has been exposed to antifreeze, contact the ASPCA Poison Control Center or your veterinarian immediately
Snow and Ice: Everyone who has adopted a greyhound knows that they LOVE to run in the snow! They can run with abandon and sometimes can get hurt badly if they skid, fall and/or run into objects. Make sure that your yard is clear of items that cannot be seen in the snow but tripped over when a greyhound runs fast. Remember, a greyhound can reach up to 40 miles per hour in a few steps. It takes much more for them to slow down than it takes for them to get up to speed.
Because a greyhound has such thin skin, everyone knows how easily they can cut themselves. One hazard that we run into a lot involves snow that melts and re-freezes. When the greyhound walks on this type of surface, they can get cut easily when their weight causes them to fall through the coating of ice that’s formed over the snow. If they run, the cuts can even be bad enough to warrant stitches. Watch for these types of surfaces and keep greyhounds from running. Or better yet, leash walk your greyhound when these types of surfaces exist.
Ice/Snow Melting Products – If you don’t have a fenced in yard and you leash walk your greyhound, you already know that they can step in a lot of stuff outside, from salt to sleet and snow to mud. There is not much you can do except to avoid areas where there is a lot of salt. If you use salt to melt your own driveways and sidewalks, check to make sure that you are buying products that are safe for dogs. Once you bring your greyhound inside, take the extra time to clean and dry off paws. At that time look for cuts or abrasions and treat them.
Check fences and gates – More greyhounds are lost in winter than any other season because it’s so easy for them to lose their sense and perspective during a snowstorm if they get loose. Check gates more often to make sure the wind hasn’t blown them open; it is a good idea to walk your fence line to check for openings or areas where sections could be blown down. Losing a greyhound in the dead of winter is a recipe for disaster.
Be cautious when outside in the dark – Since there are fewer daylight hours in the dead of winter, many people have no choice than to be out with their greyhound in the dark of the morning or at night. Keep your hound closer than usual and make sure all leashes are in good condition and collars are properly adjusted. Be careful when crossing streets and alleys that your greyhound is close to your side and easier to see. Use reflective gear so both you and your hound are easier to spot.
We hope that all of our adopted hounds stay safe and warm!