Winter safety tips
I don’t know about you, but where we live, the weather has abruptly changed over the past few days. We were wearing shorts last weekend, yet actually saw a few errant snowflakes in the air two days ago. Just like getting winter gear ready for you and your kids, your dog needs special care in the cold weather as well. Big dogs, small dogs, long-haired dogs, and short haired dogs all need some TLC when the mercury drops. Here are some tips for making sure your pets are warm and safe in the winter months:
- Use good common sense when it comes to extended outdoor time for your dog in cold temperatures. Older, frail dogs should never be left outside alone in cold weather – you should escort them outside for potty breaks and use a leash if there is a risk of falling on the ice. Puppies, smaller dogs and older dogs should not be left outside alone when it dips below 40 degrees F. Short-haired dogs will need a sweater to go outside at all.
- Watch out for poisonous chemicals. Antifreeze is especially appealing to dogs as it tastes sweet – so keep it tightly sealed and out of reach. Promptly and thoroughly clean up any spills. Always promptly rinse or wipe you dog’s paws after a winter walk to get rid of any salt or ice melt chemical from icy sidewalks. The salt can be toxic in addition to irritating your dog’s paws.
- Stay active. Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean your dog will need any less exercise. Keep going for walks and keep busy inside as well. If your dog is significantly less active in the winter, consult with your vet on adjusting quantity or type of food.
- If your dog absolutely must spend a lot of time outside, make sure he has a “house” or shelter to stay safe and warm. The house should be a few inches off of the ground, big enough so he can stand but small enough to retain his body heat, and have some straw that is changed at least one or two times each week and a blanket or two on the ground. There should be a “flap” so he can get in and out, but is still protected by the weather.
- Dogs need time to adapt to spending time outdoors in cold weather and for their coat to thicken. Give them time to adjust to the colder temps and slowly increase the time they spend outside – again bigger dogs only. Use caution and keep a close eye on your dog when he is outside in winter – extremely chilled dogs can develop hypothermia or frostbite – especially on ear tips.
- Keep giving your dog lots of fresh water – just because it’s cold doesn’t mean your dog doesn’t need to stay hydrated.