As your mother probably once warned, spending time outdoors in inclement weather could cause you to catch a cold. Is the same true for dogs? Here, whether or not walking in the rain can get a dog sick will be discussed.
Just like humans, dogs can suffer from a weakened immune system when bad weather lowers their defenses. Dogs that are especially young, old, or already suffer from a poor immune system are especially at risk for catching cold in bad weather. The biggest concern, however, is hypothermia, which can occur when a dog’s body temperature drops to abnormally low levels. The combination of wind, rain, and cold weather causes this condition. If left untreated, hypothermia can be dangerous.
Symptoms of Hypothermia
Symptoms of mild hypothermia include shivering, weakness, and lack of mental alertness. Moderate and severe symptoms include muscle stiffness, low blood pressure, slow breathing, decreased heart rate, difficulty breathing, and coma.
What to Do if Your Dog Has Hypothermia
If you suspect your dog has hypothermia, you should assess whether your dog’s condition is mild, moderate, or severe. In all cases, the dog’s core body temperature must be brought back to a safe level, such as through use of blankets or heating pads. In moderate and severe cases, medical treatment should be sought to ensure properly functioning organs.
Pet owners can prevent hypothermia in their dogs by limiting exposure to cold and wet weather. When going outside in poor conditions is inevitable, rain jackets, sweaters, and dog parkas can be used to maintain the dog’s core body temperature. Owners of dogs that are greatest risk for developing hypothermia should take extra precautions with their pets by thoroughly drying their coats after coming inside from the rain.
Overall, walking a dog in the rain does not inherently cause a dog to become sick. However, dog owners should understand that certain animals may be at risk of developing a cold or hypothermia, especially animals that are young, old, or have compromised immune systems.
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