Recently, Russian icebreaker came upon a Samoyed while it was traveling through some ice fields to reach an oil terminal in northern Russia. The dog managed to approach the side of the ship, which prompted the ship’s crew to lower a ladder for her to climb up. After which, they called the local village of Mys Kamenny to see if anyone was missing a Samoyed. As it turned out, the dog was Aika, who had run off while she was being walked around the village. In total, she had been wandering through Arctic conditions for more than a week’s time, meaning that if it wasn’t for the fortuitous encounter, she wouldn’t have survived for that much longer.
How Are These Dogs Capable of Surviving Such Inhospitable Conditions?
For those who are unfamiliar, Samoyeds are medium-sized dogs that can be recognized by their thick, white coats. They are named for the Samoyedic peoples of Siberia, who survived through hunting as well as reindeer herding. As such, Samoyeds were bred by the Samoyedic peoples to be herding dogs, thus explaining much about their temperament.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Samoyeds are also well-adapted for colder climates. For instance, their coat is double-layered rather than single-layered. The topcoat consists of the longer, coarser hairs, which are responsible for protecting the undercoat. This is important because the undercoat’s shorter, softer hairs are responsible for keeping the animal warm. Thanks to this as well as other adaptations, Samoyeds are one of the dog breeds better-suited for colder climates.
Still, being better-suited isn’t the same as being immune, meaning that Samoyeds can still succumb to Arctic conditions with sufficient exposure. On top of this, it should be remembered that most dogs aren’t used to living on their own. Theoretically, dogs can live in a wide range of environments under a wide range of circumstances. In practice, pet dogs don’t have the education needed to do so, meaning that they have to undergo a painful education of trial and error if they are ever thrust into such a scenario. Something that explains much about why stray dogs have it as hard as they do even when their surroundings are less inhospitable than Siberia.
How Can You Tell If Your Dog Is Suffering from the Cold?
In any case, there are plenty of cold places besides Siberia. As such, it can be a good idea for interested individuals to learn the signs that their dog is suffering from the cold:
- Do You Feel Cold? – For starters, interested individuals can use themselves to gauge outside conditions. Chances are good that if they are feeling cold, their dog is feeling cold as well. After all, most interested individuals will be wearing a coat as well as other winter clothing, meaning that they should be very well-insulated. As such, if they feel cold, they should assume that their dog feels cold as well. Something that is particularly true if their dog is either thin-coated or on the smaller side of things, both of which make said animals more susceptible to colder temperatures.
- Cold Extremities – Interested individuals might have noticed that different parts of the body freeze at different rates. This is as true for dogs as it is for humans. As such, interested individuals might want to check their dog’s ears to see how their dog is doing. If the dog’s ears feel cold to the touch, interested individuals should consider bringing their dog back inside. Meanwhile, if even the dog’s torso feels cold to the touch, interested individuals should definitely bring their dog back inside as soon as possible.
- Shivering – Shivering is a common response to the cold in warm-blooded animals. Essentially, it sees the skeletal muscles shaking to create warmth by expending energy, thus enabling them to maintain homeostasis. Thanks to this, the sight of shivering can be a good indication that dogs as well as other warm-blooded animals are feeling the cold. If interested individuals see their dog either shivering, shaking, or shuddering, they should get their dog indoors as soon as possible.
- Limping – The extremities are more susceptible to the cold. As such, it should come as no surprise to learn that a dog’s paws are some of the most vulnerable parts of their body when it comes to freezing temperatures. This is the reason that interested individuals should provide their dog with dog booties if they plan to bring their dog outside during the winter. For that matter, dog booties are also good for protecting dogs from salt as well as other potentially problematic substances, which can wreak havoc on exposed skin.
- Whining and Whimpering – Dogs will vocalize their distress if they feel cold. Due to this, if interested individuals hear their dog either whining, whimpering, or barking for unclear reasons while they are out and about, they should check to see if their dog is feeling cold. Animals vocalize their distress for very good reasons, meaning that it is best to pay attention to such signals.
- Lethargy – The sign of their dog being lethargic should get interested individuals to bring them out of cold with all possible speed. A lot of the aforementioned signs signal that something is wrong, meaning that people should take corrective action before something more serious can happen. In contrast, lethargy could be a sign that the dog has hypothermia, which is a serious problem that can result in either death or medical complications. Due to this, interested individuals should warm up their dogs if they see signs of either lethargy, sleepiness, or similar issues. Furthermore, if their efforts don’t produce the desired results, they should contact a veterinarian for assistance because this is extremely serious.
There are some dog breeds that are more capable of putting up with cold temperatures than others. However, there are limits to what even the most cold-resistant dog breeds can handle. Due to this, it might be best for interested individuals to keep their dogs indoors when the weather is bad, particularly since there are indoor substitutes for outdoor activities. Excessive exposure to freezing temperatures can cause serious problems, so it can be a good idea to prevent it by just staying indoors during the worst of the winter season.