Avoiding Wintertime DoggieDangers
Yes, dogs have fur, but that doesn’t mean they should beleft outside when the thermostat reaches dangerously low levels. As a dogowner, you probably already know that and pay very close attention to thetemperature during the winter before leaving your pooch outside. However, thereare other wintertime threats to your dog’s health you may not be aware of. Dogsneed special care during the frigid winter months just like any other pet (orhuman, for that matter) to avoid a litany of dangers, from frostbite to poisoning.It requires attention to detail and patience, and it’s essential for keepingyour canine safe and healthy.
Tips for Pet Owners
A dog’s paws are especially vulnerable when ice and snow are on the ground. Pay special attention to your dog when out for a walk in such circumstances, as ice can easily build up between his toes and pads, which may crack and cause intense pain. If Rover is noticeably limping during your evening walk, take him inside and try treating the paw with some petroleum jelly. Also, remember to wipe his paws thoroughly upon returning home.
Keep Away from Chemicals
Dogs are notorious scroungers, always nosing around for a tasty tidbit. But that habit can get him pet into serious trouble during the winter unless you’re very careful about keeping the driveway and garage floor free of antifreeze and motor oil, which can be lethal if swallowed. Clean up after changing the oil in the family car or topping off engine fluids. Also, don’t forget to keep the family dog away from ice melt and salt on the sidewalk and walkways; be especially careful to check your pooch’s paws for salt granules, which can produce painful dryness and cracking.
Safe and Warm Indoors
Some dogs are just outdoor dogs. Their size and nature predispose them to the outdoor life, and they enjoy spending plenty of time in the backyard during the spring, summer, and fall months. If you live in a cold climate, such as New England or the Upper Midwest, leaving your furry friend outside for long periods of time is very risky. Dogs can get frostbite just like people can, and a cute, well-constructed dog house won’t protect him when the temperature drops below freezing. What’s more, never leave a dog outside if you’re leaving the house for an extended period or keep him outside overnight in extremely cold weather.
If you’re a guy with a pit bull or rottweiler, it’s probably unlikely that you’ll be fitting out your burly boy with a brightly colored doggie sweater for winter outdoor activities. However, if you’re a dachshund, poodle or beagle owner, your puppy’s a better candidate for some kind of covering to keep the frigid wind from biting too hard. A good rule of thumb is to safeguard smaller breeds that have less fur with a sweater or some other kind of protection.
Cold, dry air can be a problem for dogs, just as it can for humans. Dry skin can be a painful, flaky, itchy condition during a cold snap. So, if your pooch has sensitive skin, minimize the time he spends outside, and on bath night, use a moisturizer shampoo or spray for skin protection.
Dog care during the winter months really comes down to common sense and being attentive to potential hazards. If you and your dog love your daily walks together, keep a close eye on his paws, particularly when the snow and ice accumulate. And keep your property free of spilled chemicals, snow ice melt, and other man-made hazards.
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