It’s cold! The kind of cold you feel in your bones. Whether your yard is under two feet of snow or it’s just above freezing temperature where you live, all dog owners should take some winter precautions for our furbabies. Here are just a few guidelines to practice.
1.Hypothermia and frostbite. It can happen to pets too! If your dog stays and sleeps outdoors, be especially mindful of the following hypothermia symptoms: shivering, shallow breathing or lethargy. Frostbite on the other hand is a tissue-related injury that occurs mostly on ears, tails and paws. Look for discolored skin, blisters and swelling under your dog’s fur. If you suspect hypothermia or frostbite, seek medical help from a veterinarian immediately.
2.Winter weather activities. Who says cold can’t be fun? While it’s best to stay indoors during really low temps, the occasional outing can offer you and your dog some much needed bonding time and fresh air! But if you have a dog with short hair or a smaller breed, a water-resistant doggie sweater is a good idea. In this case, it’s not a fashion statement, it’s a necessity! Also, keep your dog on a leash to help him /her steer clear of any frozen bodies of water, and to keep them from eating snow. Eating snow can cause tummy aches, and dogs could ingest objects hidden beneath it.
3.Winter chemicals. After a cold outing, be sure to wipe your dog down, especially the paws and legs. This is to get rid of any salt, coolant, antifreeze or other potentially dangerous chemicals that he/she may have come in contact with and could ingest while licking their paws. Additionally, snow and salt can become encrusted on paws, causing them to bleed.
4.Identification is a must. It’s not uncommon for pets to become lost in the winter. Snow and ice can hide recognizable scents that might normally help your dog find the way home. To avoid the potential health hazards of cold weather, be sure your dog has a collar with identification or a microchip to ensure he/she is returned to you safely.
5.Be prepared. You never know when a winter storm will hit, knocking out power or causing roads to become impassable. It’s a good idea to stock up on your pet’s food and extra water for him/her just as you would for yourself and your human family members. A good rule of thumb is to have enough food and water for five days. Also be sure that you have enough medication if your dog requires any prescriptions.
Above all, enjoy these winter months snuggling with your furry friends! They’ll love it, and it might just warm you up too.