How to Deal with Breed Specific Behavioural and Health Issues in the Cold Months?
Dog Owner Question
"Hi! I own a wonderful Great Pyrenees and this is our first winter together. What tips can you give us to prepare for winter and what behaviour can I expect from my dog during this period?"
Answer from the vet
Pyrenean Mountain Dogs originally lived in the Pyrenees, between France and Spain, which have quite cold winter months. This means that the breed tolerates the cold well and you can expect your dog to enjoy playing in the snow.
From a behavioural point of view, it's worth bearing in mind that Pyrenean Mountain Dogs were originally bred to guard flocks, so they are instinctively guarding and very protective.
This behaviour can be amplified by your dog during the cold season, as guard dogs are often more alert and protective during the cold months.
From a health perspective, it is important to note that although the thick coat of Pyrenean Mountain Dogs protects them well from the cold, they can be prone to skin irritation and dermatitis, especially if their coat becomes wet and does not dry properly.
Make sure your dog is dry before you let him in the house, especially if he's been in the snow for a long time!
Pyrenean Mountain Dogs are very large dogs, so they need extra energy during the cold months.
This means that you will need to increase your dog's diet during the winter months to give him the energy he needs. Always consult your vet before changing the feeding regime.
Pyrenean Mountain Dogs also enjoy playing in the snow, but it is important to keep an eye on your dog's physical condition.
If he seems too chilly or shivering, beware as these could be signs of hypothermia.
Although this breed can tolerate cold well, even they are at risk of excessive cold, especially if they are very young, elderly or have chronic health problems.
During the winter, your dog's feet need special care. Salt sprinkled on pavements and roads to prevent icing can damage dogs' feet and cause irritation.
Always wipe your dog's feet when they come home from a walk!
Also, ice and snow can build up between dogs' toes, which can cause pain. So check your dog's feet regularly.
For older Pyrenean Mountain Dogs, it is especially important to watch out for joint pain in cold weather.
If you notice that your dog is moving stiffer or is visibly in pain, contact your vet immediately.
Finally, as with all large-bodied dog breeds, obesity is common in Pyrenean Mountain Dogs and can be exacerbated by less active winter months.
Make sure your dog gets regular exercise, even when it's cold outside.
I hope these tips will help you in the upcoming winter months.
Most importantly, keep your dog's health and well-being in mind and always be prepared to seek expert help if any concerns arise. I wish you all a happy winter!