If you live in Central Texas, you might not be as concerned about protecting your dog from cold weather as you are from the heat. While we don’t experience the extended periods of snow, ice and extreme cold temperatures that other parts of the country do, it’s still important to be educated and prepared. Here some tips to keep your boxer safe when the temperature drops.
Don’t Leave Your Dog Outside
Since boxers are short haired dogs, they are more susceptible to cold than other breeds. Although some dogs love the cooler days and cold nights, most boxers are very social creatures and would much rather be inside with their family, regardless of the weather.
It’s important that pets stay warm, so don’t leave your boxer outside, especially at night or when the temperature drops below 50 degrees. If left outside, pets can freeze. They can also become injured, or get lost or stolen, which is sadly all too common.
If your dog is ill, or is very young or elderly, in particular, they may suffer more from the cold. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, pets with medical issues such as diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, or hormonal imbalances (such as Cushing’s disease) may have a harder time regulating their body heat.
Although some people believe dogs are more resistant to cold because they have fur coats, they’re just as vulnerable to frostbite and hypothermia as we are. If you’d be uncomfortable spending a day outside in shorts and a t-shirt or without a heavy winter coat, chances are your boxer would prefer to be indoors, too. It’s heartbreaking to see a pet that’s been left alone outside in the cold and is desperately banging on the door to get attention while their owner is gone, or worse, ignoring them and sitting comfortably inside a warm house.
Clothing and Bedding
In addition to keeping your boxer inside most of the time, consider getting a sweater or dog coat. Since boxers have large chests, look for one that is specifically designed for them or similar breeds to ensure a proper fit. Although you probably don’t need booties in Austin like you would in colder climates, you may want to consider them for days when it’s very wet or icy outside to protect their paw pads.
When indoors, make sure your boxer has a cozy, dry, and quiet place to sleep. Although there are many affordable dog beds nowadays, a rolled-up warm blanket will work too, particularly if you’re in a small space or on a budget.
Staying Warm with Outside Shelter
If your dog absolutely, positively has to be outside for part of the day for whatever reason, you must provide them with a warm, safe shelter from the cold, even if it’s only slightly chilly or damp. Never tie up a dog and leave them outside! In addition to being cruel and inhumane, leaving a dog alone on a chain or a tether is prohibited by Austin city law (Austin City Code Section 3-4-2).
Make sure that they have unlimited access to shade and a well-protected, enclosed doghouse that sits off the ground, and that there is plenty of thick, dry bedding that is cleaned on a regular basis. If you’ve ever witnessed the joy of a happy boxer jumping through a pile of warm laundry or sleeping on fresh blankets, you’ll know that they like clean and warm things just like we do.
You must also make sure that they have easy, unlimited access to fresh, clean water and that their water source doesn’t freeze or ice up. There are pet-safe heated water bowls designed for this purpose.
Cold Weather Walks and Exercise
When it’s cold outside, consider shortening your long walks and reducing outside exercise time. While we don’t have to worry about icy sidewalks and roads too often in Austin and surrounding areas, your boxer may be uncomfortable staying outside for more than 20 minutes or more, even with a sweater or dog coat.
Keep an eye on your boxer at all times and look for any signs of distress, just like you would when the temperatures climb. If your dog shows any sign of discomfort, chances are it’s time to take them home and inside.
Other Tips for Keeping Your Pet Safe
Here are some additional safety measures to consider when the weather outside is frightful.
The first would be space heaters, which are fairly common in Central Texas. Make sure that if you are using space heaters that your dogs and other pets can’t knock them over or burn themselves. Never leave a space heater on and unattended while your pets are loose in your house or you’re gone. Install carbon monoxide detectors as well to make sure that your home is safe for you and your pets.
Almost everyone is aware of how fast a car can become insufferably hot in the summer in Texas, but what you might not realize is how quickly they can become cold. In cold weather, the temperature inside your vehicle can drop quickly and become a freezer on wheels. Young, old, or ill pets in particular shouldn’t be left unattended in a cold car. If you’re traveling with your boxer, bring along their favorite dog bed or warm blankets to keep them bundled up and comfortable for the ride. Avoid flying, since airlines will often put large animals like boxers in the cargo hold, which can be below freezing.
In the rare event of a winter storm with ice and snow, make sure your pets are taken care of while you’re preparing for emergencies. Be sure that you have enough supplies of prescription medications for your dogs and cats, especially if you have elderly or ill boxers, and stock up on pet food.
Winter weather, travel, and darker days can make it easier for pets to go missing, so make sure your boxer has a well-fitting collar with up-to-date tags and contact information. A microchip provides permanent identification, and all Austin Boxer Rescue dogs come with an imbedded microchip that links them back to ABR if they are lost. If your dog isn’t already microchipped, there are free and inexpensive options for this throughout Austin and surrounding areas.