This time of year everyone needs some tips for dogs surviving winter. Some dogs love to play in the snow, others would like to head to warmer weather and won’t go near it. We can all enjoy the winter months with our dogs. A walk on a sunny day can be invigorating not to mention good exercise for you both. Follow these few simple tips on how to keep your dogs safe and healthy this winter.
Most dogs do not have a thick enough winter coat to keep them warm during the colder days of winter. You may need to limit their outdoor activities. Most of us are outdoors with our dog and if we are cold, so are they.
Does your dog suffer from a medical condition such as diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease or a hormonal imbalance? This can compromise their ability to regulate body temperature. Senior dogs and puppies are also more vulnerable to cold weather.
Is your dog in an outdoor kennel? If so, make sure it is well insulated and you have plenty of thick bedding to keep them warm. Do not allow their water to freeze. They can dehydrate quickly without a fresh supply of unfrozen water, p0lus it may also have them look for alternatives to drink, such as puddles which can be polluted with harmful chemicals.
Taking your dog out for a walk? Buy them a nice warm coat to keep their body warm. If it is their first time wearing a coat they may not be happy but they will get used to it and enjoy their outdoor times being warm.
Monitor your dog’s condition when outdoors for any length of time. Weather changes, cold temperatures, ice patches and snow can cause frostbite. Their paws and ears are particularly at risk. If you do suspect frostbite, wrap them in a warm blanket and take them to your veterinarian for evaluation.
Hypothermia can be a concern for dogs who spend most of their time outdoors. It will also affect dogs who have circulatory problems or those with poor health. Some symptoms for hyperthermia include shivering, depression and weakness. If allowed to progress the muscles will become stiff and heart and breathing slow down. They may not respond to any type of stimuli including food. Wrap your dog in a warm blanket and see your veterinarian immediately.
Do you bathe your dog regularly during the winter? Stay away from harsh shampoos which can dry their skin and cause flaking and itching. Oatmeal shampoos or those that are medicated for sensitive skin would be a better choice. If your dog has skin allergies, follow your veterinarian’s suggestions on which product should be used on your dog.
Do you have hazardous products lurking around your garage or inside the home? Watch for these potentially dangerous chemicals such as anti-freeze and windshield wiper fluid. These products taste sweet to our dogs and if ingested can poison them, again if suspected get to your veterinarian quickly. These products can cause death.
Ever thought of the potential dangers of mistletoe, poinsettia, holly, lilies, chocolate, coffee, macadamia nuts and yeast dough? These are also harmful if ingested, keep these out of your dog’s reach.
What about ice melters, rock salt, etc. These can cause burns on your dog’s paws and if they lick their paws they will ingest the chemicals and cause other issues. Use pet safe ice melters as they are safer for your pet. Always wipe your dog’s paws with a warm cloth when walking them on treated sidewalks and roads.
Winter can be fun with our dogs. Be mindful of where you are walking especially if you are near a river or lake. The water may look frozen but there will be spots that are thin and your dog can fall through and not be able to get out. Do not allow your dog to lie down next to a fireplace or space heater. A stray ash from the fireplace can burn your dog and space heaters get too hot.
A dog’s exercise is usually limited during the winter months. Think about massage therapy as part of their regular health maintenance. Massage will help keep your dog’s muscles toned, keeps them relaxed and can help with the winter blues behavior issues and so much more.