Golden Retrievers are medium-sized dogs that were originally bred by people to retrieve waterfowl and game birds. They are especially fond of water. This fondness, however, doesn’t mean that cold doesn’t have an ill-effect on them. Being a popular name among purebred dogs, they are generally more prone to develop ailments.
Effects of Cold on the Golden Retrievers
The Golden Retrievers can generally bear cold weather. They continue their usual activities with great excitement and energy. However, they do feel cold when the temperature goes off-limits. Their limbs may start paining when exposed to the cold for a long duration. Also, they are a favorite victim of frostbite. Hypothermia or loss of body heat also causes a Golden Retriever to suffer.
The Retrievers start displaying the following signs when the cold becomes too excessive and unbearable for their bodies:
- They would show weakness which is contrary to their energetic behavior.
- Their muscles would get stiff and hardened by frost.
- They would start expressing lethargy.
- There would be a lack of attention and curiosity.
- Their pupils become strangely still or appear dilated.
- They often feel uneasiness while breathing, similar to humans, when they catch a cold.
How to Keep Golden Retrievers Warm?
The following points would guide you on how to comfort your dog so that they do not catch an awful cold:
- A Warm Restplace
The charity for the Golden Retrievers begins at home. There is a hundred percent chance that a Golden will catch cold while inside the home. Even the air conditioners would be of little help in this case. It should be ensured that the Golden should not be lying on the ground. It is a well-known fact that the bare ground is one of the most notorious mediums of transmitting cold.
There should be a proper bed for the dog, and this is essential for all seasons. If you cannot afford a full-fledged wooden bed, you can opt for a small wooden cradle. Plastic will also prove to be a cheap and easy-to-maintain piece of furniture. Carving out a small bed from spare wood in your house would be an even great option.
Place an insulating material on the inner walls of the dog-house so that the body heat is trapped inside. However, during the winter season, an extra warm blanket would help the dog a lot.
If there is a fireplace at home, the dog’s cradle should be placed near it. This proximity would provide it with extra warmth. Also, the bed should be kept far away from windows as they are a potential source of bringing in a cold breeze. This can happen even when the windows are kept closed. This is because small cracks and crevices are always present along the window sill.
Try to keep the Retriever’s bed at a good height. This would help in keeping a distance between the dog and the cold floor of the house. An added advantage would be a distance from drafts in the walls.
- Buy a Cozy Winter Wear
A sweater or a sturdy jacket would not only compliment the Retriever dog but also protect it from cold both indoors and outdoors. The Retrievers are hyper-excited creatures, and they would rarely keep sitting idle. However, their habit of wandering inside the home and stretching their bodies when waking up may bring them in touch with the cold house floor. A good thick jacket would help here.
When outdoors, the Retrievers need to be kept isolated and insulated from the snow. The same jacket would keep their bodies dry when hopping in the snow. For a longer duration stay in the snowy fields, the apparels would take care of their health.
It should be kept in mind that the dog should be comfortable with the winter wear. It should not be too tight or too loose because the dog may behave strangely in a bid to get rid of it. The Golden Retrievers are known to become easily annoyed when they feel uncomfortable, so this fact should be kept care of. Funky wear on your dog would not only save it from the harsh winter but also make you appear stylish and modern.
- Take Care of the Golden’s Hair
Grooming the Golden Retriever is necessary for the prevention of allergies and other skin ailments. They have a long coat that makes their skin vulnerable to infections due to parasites and other microbes. However, trimming their warm golden coat during winters would prove to be a worse idea. Their golden haircoat is the one that keeps them naturally warm, and they shouldn’t be made devoid of it.
On the other hand, keeping their hair matted and unruly would lead to their unease. This matted hair problem can be countered by combing their hair regularly. However, the act of combing should be smooth and not hurt the dog’s skin.
The Retrievers lose the ability to keep themselves warm when their fur is tangled and dirty, so this counts as an important part of their hygiene. If combing alone is incapable of removing the dirt off the Retriever’s hair, then the aid of shampoo can be taken. But this should be done only within a span of ten to fifteen days.
With all the above done, the Retrievers would also get good insulation from cold weather along with good hygiene.
- The Need for a Good Diet
The Golden Retrievers love food. They are also prone to get obese due to their habit of overeating. This factor leads to an even greater dilemma during winters.
In the winters, the body-temperature of the dogs gets lowered, and this lowering may burn more calories than in summer. A good master needs to increase the quantity of Retriever’s food. But beware of keeping this increase in a safe limit. Overeating may cost a lot to your Retriever, and eventually you in the long run.
Increased fat would make the dog lazy and lethargic. It can become a sort of addiction to certain foods. It may also snap at the children and its master if not given what it wants.
However, food is the necessity of the dog, and there should be a fixed time for each meal. Also, warm or thaw the food before administering it to the dog. Too hot or too cold food may adversely affect their taste buds. This might further lead to aggressive behavior.
- Importance of Hydration
Hydration is very important not only for humans but for the Retrievers as well. In summers, the water is at a normal temperature. The dog can easily take a sip out of a pond. However, during winters this wouldn’t be a very good practice. The master should take care that the dog is not consuming cold water. The intake of cold water can cause numbness in their tongues and subsequently lead to fever and elevated temperatures.
Most of the time, the masters feel that the dog wouldn’t need more water when cold. This thought is not correct as the dog’s body needs a fair share of water in every season. Even if the dog is not expressing thirst, the master must regularly give warm drinking water to the dog.
Also, it is important to note that you can’t heat some water in a container in the morning and expect it to run all day long. The water may get cold due to the surrounding temperatures, and this may cause a common cold.
A thermos flask can be brought into play here. This flask would eliminate the extra efforts of the master of warming the water again and again.
- Make Outdoor Trips Less Frequent
This might be a little hard as the Golden Retriever may not settle for a tiny playground. Their intense desire to just continue playing makes them unstoppable in the snow. Although the Golden would hardly discover a butterfly in the dreary winters, it doesn’t forget enjoying it in its own company. The master has to keep a watch over the dog. The dog should be encouraged to play inside the home instead of going out for walks.
This can be done by making the inside of your house vibrant and attractive. The Retrievers are very keen on nature. This would make them engaged in the beauty of your home, and they would rarely think about going out.
However, if the dog still insists on going out, other precautions can be taken. Making the dog wear a jacket during an outing would protect its stomach and the sides from frostbite, but the ears and eyes may still get exposed to snow. A sunglass over the Golden retriever’s eyes would help a lot in keeping the eye protected from the snow. For the ears, simple inexpensive cotton buds would fare well.
- Post Playtime Habits
You may have packed your dog when taking it out. However, a minor mistake from your side may reverse the gains you made this way. Spare a separate dry towel to wipe Retriever’s body after returning home. This has to be done because the Retriever’s long hair may get wet, and this wetness may lead to the dog catching a cold.
It should be ensured that the towel is clean and should be washed and steamed regularly.
This is especially important in summers too, as the dog’s body would get cleaning off the fleas. However, in summers the sun does half the work, but the onus of drying the dog lies on the master during the winters.
- Use Heaters with Precautions
We mostly use heaters during winter as they provide a lot of relief. But a thing to notice is the extreme cold we feel when we drift far away from the heater’s coverage area. In one way or the other, this means that we develop a habit of the heater’s warmth which is not a good thing. The same happens with the Golden Retrievers. Once they start spending more and more time with a heater nearby, they start getting used to it. After this, the cold outside becomes unbearable to them. So instead of providing them with only heaters, you can stuff them with some extra clothes to keep them warm.
Also, small portable heaters are a great help but they can be particularly dangerous for the dog. The dog may poke its nose or tongue into the rods and get burnt. To counter this, the heater can be placed near the ceiling. An All-Weather AC would work best in such conditions.
- Scrutinize the Dog
The Retriever may not show any signs of disease until it gets worse. The most they can do is merely continued barking. A good master should notice even a thing as small as a rash. In summers it is alright for a dog to have it, however, in winters it may be a sign of frostbite.
Frostbite refers to the freezing of the skin tissue. This may further lead to blood clotting which may have disastrous effects on your dog’s health. Also, to get rid of the frostbite, the dog may scratch and harm itself.
The thing that needs to be done to prevent such a situation is inspection. The back of the dog’s ears, its tail, and paws need to be checked for any signs of frostbite. If found it should be treated immediately so that it doesn’t reach stage four.
- Use Earplugs
Earplugs are not only helpful in blocking noise but also help in keeping cold away. We often cover all our body parts but ignore the ears. Then through our ears, the cold air finds an easy way to make us its victim.
The same is true for the Retrievers. To protect them from the ailments of the ear, we can use earplugs. Two small pieces of cotton would protect the ear from cold air.
If you are afraid that your dog would wipe off the cotton from its ear, you can use a thermal earmuff. These are headphone –like structures that are used during winters and fit gracefully on the ears.
- Use Thermometers
A thermometer would be a piece of very great equipment to monitor the dog’s temperature. The dog’s temperature cannot be known by simply putting a hand on the forehead as in the case of humans. A thermometer is a must in the dog’s case.
However, the thermometers for human use cannot be used on dogs. Also, there are different ways of getting a dog’s temperature. The most accurate determination of the dog’s temperature is through rectal means. A less trustworthy choice would be an examination in the armpit.
Digital thermometers specifically designed for dogs are recommended by veterinarians for measuring a dog’s body temperature. A mercury thermometer would also perform well in this regard.
- Dog Bathing
During summers, the thing that a dog wants most is bathing. Although it doesn’t have an inch of clothing on its body, it feels extremely warm. However, this activity needs to be stopped during winters. It wouldn’t be a good idea at all to submerge your dog into cold water without taking proper precautions. A towel should be thoroughly rubbed on its body.
Another good idea would be to skip the baths altogether. You can take the liberty of 15-20 days if the dog starts stinking due to sweat. Also, if your dog is a regular victim of fleas and skin infections, the best idea would be to bathe it regularly with lukewarm water.
- Protect the Paws
It is a general misconception that the pads of dogs protect them from all sorts of toe infections. The pads are irrefutably an important part of the dog’s body. They however are not resilient to ice and snow. Prolonged exposure to salt and snow can make the pads of the Golden Retriever sore. This can cause blood clotting and can aggravate the paralysis of the limbs in the future.
A good idea in such a situation would be making the Retriever wear boots. They may not like it initially, but a good master needs to make them used to it by continued practice. The dog may also abstain from wearing long boots due to their weight. With increased weight, they would need to make more efforts to lift their limbs. For this, the weight of the boots needs to be considered. The boots should be lightweight and should fit into the paws of the Retriever perfectly. If the Retriever shows an abrupt discomfort after wearing the boots, it might be itching them from the inside.
- Use a Leash
A good master would never like to keep his Golden tied with a leash. However, the nearly perfect Retriever dog may lose its olfactory senses amidst snow during winters. This is because the cold has a strange blocking effect on their sensitive noses. The Golden Retrievers like to dig their nose in the mud and they perform the same act in the snow. The overall effect this has is the dog losing its tracks. If the dog is left on its own during such a sensitive time, there are chances that it may not return home.
The best option to opt here would be an inexpensive leash that would help you in controlling the Golden. A good attractive dog collar with your contact information in case the dog gets lost would be an invaluable asset. If your dog runs away and a noble person finds it, there would be higher chances of it returning home.
- Plan a Play Time Table
Exercising is an excellent way to generate body heat. Also, it may help your Golden Retriever cope with the indoor environment. You can utilize the winters in training your Golden to learn some new skills and commands.
However, if you have got some other important things to do and you cannot spare much time for your dog, you can make use of the dog’s toys. Hide its favorite toy somewhere and ask it to find the same. This would keep the Retriever busy for a good long time, and the dog would love it.
If counter to the above case, you have a pretty good spare time, you can engage in fetch with the dog. You can toss a ball towards the next end, and wait for the dog to bring it back.
You can also keep some special toys exclusively for indoor games. This would build up excitement in your dog, and it will crave for such rare indoor playtime.
The Golden Retrievers are smart and sturdy dogs, but they are prone to become a victim of the cold. Therefore, taking special care of them during winters becomes a necessary task for the owner. The Retrievers may show certain signs when the cold starts annoying them. They would shiver, become less focused, feel lethargic, and start snapping.
There are many ways to keep the Retriever protected from the cold. The first and foremost is a warm place to rest and lie. This can be made possible by constructing an insulated and warm house exclusively for the dog.
A comfortable sweater or jacket will protect the dog both indoors and outdoors. Also, keeping the long golden hairy coat of the Retriever intact during winters would give it an additional layer of security. Proper diet and water will boost the immune system of the dog. This will alleviate the unnecessary and minute worries regarding the dog’s health. The amount of diet needs to be increased, and water shouldn’t be compromised.
The outdoor visits of the dog should be restricted. The maximum time of the dog should be spent at home. Even if the dog has been taken out, a thorough rubbing of its body using the towel would help a lot.
Heaters would be very helpful for the dog inside the home. However, it should be ensured that the dog doesn’t get used to it. Also, the heater should be at a higher level in the room so that the dog doesn’t hurt itself. The dog should be closely monitored for unusual signs on the body like those of frostbite. Using earplugs for the Retriever when going outdoors would be a good idea. This would prevent cold air from entering its head via the ear. Also, there should be a permanent availability of a digital rectal thermometer for mapping the temperature of the dog.
The extra burden of bathing the dog every day during winters should be avoided, if possible. The dog should not be bathed unless it smells bad or harbors fleas on the back. The paws of the dog are also very sensitive and need to be protected by making the dog wear boots when wandering in the snow.
A dog leash and collar is a very important utility both in summers and in winters. There is a great probability of the Golden getting lost during winters due to its nose losing the smelling powers. The collar can have the name and address of the master so that the dog is retrieved soon in case it gets lost. The final point is designing a time table that incorporates playtime for the dog. This would keep the dog as well as the master engaged and warm.