Depending on where you live, you could be getting ready for the cold winter weather that will be here soon. While we are protecting our pipes and stocking up on heating fuel, it is a good time to think about our pets as well.
Many pet owners falsely believe that because their pet has a coat of fur, that they can tolerate the temperature drops better than people. This is not the case. Like us, they are used to the warmth and comfort of our indoor living, and the weather change can be just as uncomfortable. They don’t have the opportunity to put on a waterproof and comfy down coat and rubber boots like we do. Your dog or cat can be just as subject to frostbite and hypothermia as you and your family
Now Is The Time To Give Our Pets A Little Extra Care
Put A Sweater On Your Dog – Some dogs won’t wear a sweater, no matter how cold they get. But if your dog will tolerate it, a sweater is a great answer for keeping your dog toasty warm. Consider keeping the sweater on your dog even in the house. Short-haired dogs and senior citizens are usually appreciative of the extra layer of warmth. Keep in mind that dogs lose the majority of their body heat through the pads of their feet. When out walking in the cold and ice, there is a limit to how much a sweater or coat will help. Look for signs that your dog is uncomfortably cold, such as shivering, slowing down or stopping, or whining. If you see these behaviors, it is time to get them to a warmer spot.
A Winter Cut – If you have your dog groomed, have a longer-hair winter cut done. Save the shaved coiffure for summer. A longer coat is a warmer coat.
Take Extra Care With Your Senior Dog – If you have arthritis or know someone who does, you know that cold weather is especially painful on joints. It is hard to get the body moving on cold and wet days. It is the same for your dog. Make sure they have a thick warm blanket and soft bed in a warm area so they can nap in comfort. If you are able to afford one, a heated dog bed would be especially welcomed by your dog. When going for walks, be careful of slippery spots. They may have 4-wheel drive, but old legs aren’t as steady and sure as young ones on snow and ice.
Moisturize- Frigid dry weather can damage your dogs’ skin. Add a skin and coat supplement to their food to prevent their skin from getting flaky and itchy this winter. Coconut is a good natural supplement and dogs usually love the taste. You can also apply the oil topically if you find rough patches on their skin or paw pads.
Don’t Overfeed – Make sure the extra layer of winter warmth is from a coat and not a layer of fat. Winter usually means less exercise for dogs. Instead of needing more food, they actually need less. Don’t let the pounds creep on over the cold, dark winter. That would be a good lesson for people to abide by also.
Hydrate- Just because it is cold outside doesn’t mean your dog needs less water. They can dehydrate just as quick as they can in the summer. Eating snow is not a substitute for a long drink of water. If you take your dog out for a day of winter fun, make sure you take plenty of water for the both of you.
Proper Foot Care- Dogs feet are prone to cracking in the winter, if allowed to progress it can become quite painful to your pet. Salt on winter sidewalks and streets can burn and irritate the cracked areas. After outings, always wash and dry their feet to prevent the irritation and ingesting the salt by licking their feet.
Be Wary Of Toxins- With winter comes the potential of increased exposure to poisons. Propylene glycol, the main ingredient in antifreeze tastes like candy to your dog and kids. They will readily drink it or lick it off the ground. Antifreeze is extremely toxic, even a very small amount can be fatal. Take all precautions to keep your pets (and children) away from this toxin.
Monitor Outside Time – Dogs love to play in the snow, especially if you have kids. Exercise is recommended always, but be careful how long they are exposed to extreme conditions. Bring them inside for warming breaks to get their paws and bodies back to normal temperature.
Harsh winter weather can pose a variety of safety concerns for responsible pet owners, but with common sense, we can make sure to keep our pets safe until we see ice melting and the welcome signs of spring.