Q:This is going to be a cold week. We have an outdoor dog named Bo who has a doghouse and likes the cold.
Should I bring him inside so he is warmer? My wife thinks he smells bad and would rather put him in the garage.
A: You are right, it is going to be extremely cold this week over most of the country including here in West Virginia. I am going to have to side with you and recommend Bo come inside the house, unless the garage is heated.
All you will need to do to keep peace is give the family pet his yearly washing upon entry.
The reason Bo needs to come inside is to ward off a necrotizing skin condition called frostbite, or congelatio. This happens to animals exposed to temperatures less than 32 degrees for a prolonged amount of time.
It is more pronounced in debilitated animals, young animals and sick animals as they will lie longer in cold, wet areas without moving.
Frostbite develops faster when animals do not have shelter and are exposed to wind and water.
During prolonged exposure to cold, the body will make the blood vessels in the tips of the ears, tail, toes and scrotum in males smaller to keep warm blood flow closer to the core to support life.
The combination of low temperatures and low to no blood flow will cause the tissues to freeze and eventually die.
What you will notice if you suspect frostbite in your pet is discoloration of the affected sites. It is often pale, gray or blue. It will be cool to the touch. It also may feel brittle and be painful for your pet.