Many pets love the ice and snow, but sometimes they simply do not know when to come inside on their own. Puppies, especially, cannot regulate their body temperature as well as an adult dog. They may all of a sudden realize they are too cold to even move! When the temperatures drop, be aware of how long your dog has been outside. Short-coated or younger dogs may need jackets or even booties to help keep them comfortable. Older dogs are just as at risk as puppies. Dogsâ€™ feet can become very cold in the snow, be sure to keep your pet under supervision at all times in the cold weather – You may have to rescue a pup that cannot walk back to the house in the snow and ice!
Hypothermia and frostbite can happen to pets just like people. Their paws, tails, ears are very susceptible to frostbite. If your dog stays outside for lengths of time, be sure he has a heated dog house that also shelters him from the wind, and a heated water bowl. Dehydration is a consideration in winter months so make sure your dog has access to fresh water at all times.
Keep Your Dog Active
To keep your dog stimulated and prevent boredom through the colder months, play more often with him indoors. Get new toys and rotate them every couple of days. This is also a great time to train him and teach new commands or tricks. Your dog also needs fresh air and the opportunity to run. Many breeds, especially miniatures and shorthairs, do not tolerate cold weather well. We have many fun classes starting each month and can get together for a private lesson to talk about fun games to do in your house with your dog!
Winter Walks & Paw Care
Sidewalk ice melts like salt, magnesium, or calcium chloride can cause irritation to paws and are toxic when ingested causing stomach upsets, and if enough is ingested, nerve damage. To prevent salt from hurting your petâ€™s feet, we recommend using doggie booties and a non-toxic ice melt for your own sidewalk. If your pet has walked on a salt during your walk, wipe off his paws with a warm, wet towel.
Be sure to keep your dog off of the snowmobile trails and away from lakes or other bodies of water which may have thin ice. If you have an older dog, keep in mind that he may become stiff due to arthritis. Slipping on the ice and bitter cold weather may cause you to reduce the length of his outdoor walks. Remember to keep him physically and mentally stimulated if this is the case.
Be sure to keep the hair between your dogâ€™s toes and pads clipped short, even at the bottom of the foot. When hair is left too long, snow sticks to it, forming ice balls that are uncomfortable and hard to remove. Long hair between the pads also reduces traction, making it easier for your dog to slip and hurt himself on the ice.
Good nail care is important, too. Nails that are too long also reduce traction. They force the dog to walk on the backs of his feet, splaying his toes. The greater the space between his toes, the more snow will pack up between them.
Antifreeze is extremely toxic to dogs. Unfortunately, anti-freeze also tastes very sweet to animals, and they will lap it up if they find even a few drops on the garage floor. The toxic ingredient in most anti-freeze is ethylene glycol. If you suspect your dog has ingested anti-freeze, call your veterinarian immediately. Time is the essence as this poison can be fatal if the kidneys are damaged. There is a new anti-freeze on the market that seems to be safer (made from propylene glycol) but if you think your dog has ingested any type of anti-freeze, it is best to call your veterinarian right away.
Giene Keyes, CPDT-KA
Owner – Dog Face, LLC