For many dogs, wintertime is just as fun as spring or summer. Once the snow falls, most animals enjoy playing and running in the cold. However, some dogs just weren’t made to withstand low temperatures, and there are other dangers associated with winter that many pet owners aren’t even aware of. Knowing what these risks are can help you keep your pet safe and happy even during the coldest months ... at Dee-O-Gee "base camp" in Bozeman, MT we get lots of those!
Here are a few tips on how to keep your pet healthy and happy in the winter (keep reading).
Most dogs with thick coats don’t mind the cold; some even prefer it. As long as you keep fresh water outside--you might consider a heated water bowl--and adjust his food intake to include lots of protein to make up for the energy he burns staying warm, it’s okay to let your pet spend time outside in the wintertime. But too much time in low temps can mean exposure problems, such as hypothermia, frostbite, and dehydration. Limit your pet’s time outdoors when the temperature drops below freezing and allow him to eat a little more to build up energy. Consider moving the pet bed or blanket to a warmer spot in the house.
Your pet walks through a lot of things outside the house, and in the wintertime that can include poison. De-icers, antifreeze, and salt are just a few of the more dangerous things your pet can come into contact with once the weather turns cold, so check their paws as soon as you get home and wipe them down with a warm washcloth or pet wipe. Keeping the sensitive pads clean and taken care of will ensure your pet doesn’t lick or bite at his feet and ingest any chemicals he might have picked up along the way. A simple way to do this is with Pawz Boots or Musher's Secret.
When taking your pet for a walk, watch out for icy walkways. Most dogs are quick on their feet, but older pets--or even younger dogs who aren’t expecting the sidewalk to be slippery--can easily fall on the ice and break a leg or hip. Stick to well-shoveled areas or take him to the local dog park, where trails are usually cleared off.
Wintertime can be hard on our skin, and animals aren’t excluded. Dry, cold weather can lead to severe dry skin and itching, which can in turn lead to scratching and creating wounds. Mountain Salve is a great product to help with wounds. You could also protect your pet’s skin by hooking up a humidifier in your home and ask your vet about fatty acid supplements if you notice your dog scratching a lot. Brush his coat every day to help keep the blood circulating under the skin. Safari brushes work great for this!
If your dog spends a lot of time outside, make sure he has plenty of fresh water and that his water bowl hasn’t frozen over. Bring him in for brief breaks now and then to allow him to rest. For many people, their pets are as beloved as their own children. It’s important to know the risks that come with cold weather and prevent them if possible, so speak up if you see a pet that spends too much time outdoors or is in danger of becoming dehydrated.