This past week of uber-cold weather brings a reminder that you may need to take special care of your dog during the winter, above and beyond making sure he or she gets to come inside to stay warm. Here’s our top ten list of things you need to consider.
10. Adjust the number of calories you are feeding. If your dog stays outdoors most of the time, he or she will need more calories through the cold season. If, on the other hand, your dog becomes a permanent fixture on your fireplace hearth, you will need to lower his or her calories to prevent weight gain.
9. Make sure your dog has access to fresh water, indoors and out. Check the outside water dish often to break up the ice and give your dog access to the water beneath.
8. Check the height of your fence. It may be perfectly fine during the summer, but if the snow piles up or if you add a doghouse in the winter, will your dog be able to jump over?
7. Snow hides the smells of home. If your dog does get out, he or she may be unable to find the way home. Make sure your dog’s ID tags and microchip registry information are up to date. When do your animal control ID tags need to be renewed? If it’s at the beginning of each year, now’s the time to see to that, as well.
6. After your dog has been outside in the snow, check for tiny snow and ice balls that can become lodged between his or her toes. Consider treating the dog’s pads with paw protectant. In a pinch, you can simply spray them with non-stick cooking spray.
5. If you will be walking your dog, consider buying a set of booties to keep de-icing chemicals from irritating your dog’s paws.
4. When you groom your dog, make sure to trim the fur between the toes to lessen the risk of snow and ice build-up around them, but be sure to keep the coat long to provide some protection from the wind and cold.
3. As you service your car for the winter, keep in mind that antifreeze tastes wonderful to dogs, but it is poisonous. Keep it out of reach and clean up any spills immediately.
2. Keep an eye on your dog around any alternate heat sources you may be using inside. Make sure the dog stays a safe distance from fireplaces and space heaters.
1. If there is a river, pond, or lake within your dog’s roaming area, keep the dog on a leash. Every year, we run stories about dogs who fall through the ice and require firefighters to risk their lives for rescue. Sometimes the outcome is not a happy one. Never trust that the ice layer is thick enough to support your dog, your kids, or you!
Until next time,
Good day, and good dog!