Although our faithful canine companions are equipped with a warm fur coat and tough paw pads they’re still vulnerable when the cold weather chill sets in.
Keep them warm and dry
Even if your dog spends most of his time outdoors during the warmer months bring him indoors during the winter. A good rule of thumb is if it’s too cold for you, it’s too cold for your dog. It’s a good idea to introduce him gradually to lower temperatures rather than expose him to extreme temperatures for long periods of time.
Breeds such as Huskies, German Shepherds and Saint Bernards are more adept at handling colder temperatures. But dogs with thinner hair such as Chihuahuas or Greyhounds can benefit from a cozy sweater or jacket.
After a walk or run in the snow your dog’s coat will likely be wet or damp. Since most dogs are unlikely to tolerate a “blow out” you can help warm him up with a good towel dry.
Monitor your dog’s exposure to the fireplace and space heaters. Don’t leave your dog unattended in front of a heater or even a candle. They can burn pets the same way they burn people.
Pay attention to potential hazards on your walks such as patches of ice and snow, which can be slippery and frozen over lakes or ponds, which may have thinner areas of ice that can give way.
While it’s best to keep your dog indoors during the winter if he does spend some time in his own place it’s important to outfit it for colder weather. Doghouses should be well-insulated and not drafty with a flexible covering. They should be positioned with the opening facing south because that makes it easier to prevent winds from entering.
You may think that adding a fluffy blanket or towel is the best way to keep your dog warm, but it can actually have the opposite effect. “If your dog’s blanket gets damp or wet it can freeze. It’s better to line a doghouse with straw or hay.”
Antifreeze and rock salt
Antifreeze and rock salt help make it easier for us to navigate our way through ice and snow but they also contain chemicals that can be poisonous to dogs. So it’s important to take a proactive approach to your dog’s exposure to them. Clean up puddles of antifreeze in your garage or driveway.
Antifreeze smells good to them and it tastes sweet. But it’s incredibly poisonous. Even a small amount can be deadly, lethal, in a short amount of time. If you suspect your dog has ingested antifreeze it’s important to get him to the vet right away!
Rock salt can get stuck in between your dog’s toes and chap his paws. Give your pooch a good wipe down or a rinse off after his neighborhood walk paying special attention to his feet and belly. It’s also important to regularly trim the bits of fur in between your dog’s toes where rock salt can get stuck. Seek out brands of rock salt that are clearly marked “safe for pets” at pet stores.
Food and water
Regularly monitor your dog’s water bowl to make sure it hasn’t frozen over. Pets are just as likely to get dehydrated in the winter as in the summer, so be sure to provide plenty of fresh water. Snow is not a substitute for water. Your dog may expend more energy in the winter to keep warm or less energy if he’s not active and primarily inside. Adjust food levels accordingly.
With a house full of people it’s easy to get distracted and not notice how your dog may be enjoying his holiday.
Most people are aware of the dangers of chocolate and grapes, do not to leave out holiday treats with raisins and sugar-free candy, which often contains xylitol. Both are toxic to pets. Grapes are toxic to dogs and can cause acute renal disease. In some dogs all it takes is one grape. People often don’t stop to consider raisins which are really just a concentrated grape.
Dogs with age-related diseases such as arthritis or diabetes can be more vulnerable to the effects of cold weather. It may irritate their already achy joints. So start slow, Don’t start out by going for an hour walk. Try a 10-minute walk first then progress to a 30-minute walk. If your dog looks cold go inside.
Older dogs may also benefit from a pair of boots to give their feet an extra layer of cushion and protection.
~At Heart Arrow We Love Pets~
Thanks to PETMD for portions of this article