Keep Your Pet Healthy and Safe This Winter
For some of us, cold winter weather is annoying and unpleasant; for others, it’s a fun time...
For some of us, cold winter weather is annoying and unpleasant; for others, it’s a fun time filled with snowboarding, skiing and other winter joys. Whatever your viewpoint on winter, one thing remains the same for all of us with pets: winter is a time when our beloved four-legged friends need a little extra care. Here’s a list of tips to keep your pet healthy and safe this winter.
Short winter walks
Does your pet spend most of the time in the backyard? You might want to keep him or her more indoors during the freezing months, especially if you live in bitterly cold areas. Dogs left in the cold for long periods of times might get frostbite on the paws. It is not advised that dogs spend hours in the cold. This is even more true if your dog is very small, in which case you should take extra care. In winter, frequent short walks are better for your dog than a single long walk.
In addition to limiting your dog’s time outdoors on cold days, don’t let your pup sleep on a cold floor in winter. Choosing the right bedding is vital to ensure your dog stays warm. Warm blankets can create a snug environment and a warm bed can keep your dog off cold tiles or concrete. Place your dog’s bed in a warm spot away from drafts, cold tile or uncarpeted floors.
Never leave your dog unattended in the car!
Just as cars can get dangerously hot in summer, freezing cold temperatures are equally dangerous for your dog in winter. The best thing you can do is to leave your dog at home when you go out to run errands.
Although dogs may need an extra layer in winter, make sure it comes from a coat and not a layer of fat. Unless your dog lives outdoors during the winter, he usually won’t need any additional calories during the cold winter months. Cold temperatures may even bring on lazy behavior and the need for fewer calories. Be attentive to your dog’s activity level and adjust his calories accordingly. Make sure your pup gets healthy meals to ensure a healthy coat and good energy for the cold winter months.
Did you know that cold weather poses serious threats to your dogs’ health?
Water is needed!
Dogs can dehydrate just as quickly in winter as summer, so fresh, running water is vital for maintaining your pet’s health. Although many dogs eat snow, it should not be a substitute for fresh water. Keep an eye on the water bowls and make sure your pet always has enough to drink. If your dog spends time outdoors in the yard, make sure he or she has access to water.
Prep the paws
Just as we tend to develop foot cracks in winter, dogs can also suffer from cracked pads. Make sure the paws are ready for the winter. Good grooming is essential for healthy winter feet. Trim long-haired dogs to minimize the clinging of ice balls, salt crystals and ice-melting chemicals that can dry on the skin – especially on the feet. If your dog has very hairy feet, trim them throughout the winter.
Salt & antifreeze
Salt and other ice-melting chemicals can be horrendously hurtful to our beloved dogs. The types of salt (typically calcium or sodium chloride) used to melt ice and snow and keep it from refreezing are quite harsh on delicate paws. Protect your pet’s paws, and keep them warm during walks with dog booties. Additionally, keep your dog out of the garage and off the driveway where he may encounter antifreeze or other harmful chemicals. Antifreeze tastes sweet and dogs will readily lick or drink it. Antifreeze is extremely toxic and just a small amount can be fatal.
When you’re walking outside, avoiding all the rock salt is almost impossible. Keep a bowl of warm water just inside your door so that you can wipe your dog’s paws (and your own boots) when you are back home.
It’s cold outside and therefore a game of fetch seems less appealing than it did 4 months ago. But ensuring that our dear pets get enough exercise throughout the year is crucial to their health. Don’t let the cold weather be an excuse not to keep your dog active and healthy – bring the play inside! Show your dog love and attention with different indoor games and activities. Race up and down the stairs, try some tug of war, or practice new fun tricks. There are so many great ways to interact with your dog.
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