Keep Your Dog Active and Healthy This Winter
Brr, the cold weather is right around the corner. The days are getting shorter, there is frost on the ground, and there is a bite in the air. Winter is coming and this means it’s time to think about how you can keep your dog safe and content this winter. The good news is that it’s pretty easy to keep your dog warm and happy this winter. In fact, just as we wear winter boots and pull on a warm coat – similar adjustments can make a big difference for your dog. If your dog has arthritis or other joint problems, it’s extra important that you keep him warm while out on walks and playing outdoors. We’ve put together a list of tips for you to think about when as we enter the cooler months of the year. We want to hear from you, share your best warm dog tips with us on our Facebook page. Adjust Activities for the Weather As it starts to get cooler, the ground, sidewalks, and road also get cold. These cold surfaces can be hard on your dog’s feet. Pay attention to how your dog is walking on these cool surfaces and make adjustments to keep your dog walking and running comfortably. It’s always coolest in the evening and early morning, if possible adjust your regular walk time to fit with the warmer times of the day. Your dog will likely give you signals when his feet are cold or he’s not comfortable – look for a refusal to walk, lifting a paw from the ground, or an avoidance of a specific surface. Remember to look out for slippery surfaces that can make it hard for your dog to walk and run easily. Particularly for dogs with arthritis or joint problems, icy and uneven snowy surfaces can aggravate these conditions. Dress for the Weather When we go outside in the cold or wet we put on winter boots, a warm winter coat, gloves, and a hat. Depending on your dog’s breed and coat, you might need to dress your dog in the same protective clothing. Puppies and senior dogs typically have thin coats and benefit from the extra protection and warmth of a winter dog coat. Your dog’s paws are very tender and depending on where you walk and play, can become very cold, matted with ice, and even frostbitten. Invest in some easy-to-wear dog booties that provide good traction and protection from the elements. Get Dry and Clean The sidewalks and road are dirty, especially during the winter. Dirty snow, ice, road salt, de-icer products, and even antifreeze collect on the sidewalks, road, and in parking lots. When you get in from your walk, thoroughly clean your dog’s paws and give him a thorough rub and dry off. You don’t want your dog to lick his paws and ingest residual road salt, de-icer, or antifreeze. A nice dry off and rub down with a good thick towel helps stimulate your dog and warms him up. If you notice cracks or sores in your dog’s paws, take him to your vet – these cracks are very painful and can become encrusted with ice, salt, and snow. Be Aware of Hidden Dangers If you normally go for walks in the woods or near a water, pay attention to what you can’t see. Never ever trust the ice on the frozen lake or river and keep your dog off these tempting surfaces. Your dog can easily go through the ice or slip and fall on the surface. When walking in the woods or in a park, remember that beneath the soft snow there are rocks, trees, and other natural obstacles – pay attention to the snow depth and any residual cold water beneath the snow. Extra Warmth Inside Particularly if you have a senior dog or a dog living with arthritis, make sure your dog has a warm, comfortable spot to sleep and rest. You may need to add extra padding to your dog’s bed or upgrade to a heated dog bed. Do not place a heating pad in your dog’s bed – these human heating pads can produce a level of heat that is dangerous to your dog. We want you to make the most of the winter months – there is nothing better than getting out for a run in the snow or chasing a ball that disappears in the deep snow. Just remember to keep your dog warm and pay attention to any signals he’s giving you about how he’s feeling. Visit our Facebook page and tell us how you plan to make the most of the winter with your beloved dog.