Wintertime brings dropping temperatures, social gatherings and time on the road visiting family and friends. We asked Trupanion’s Chief Veterinary Officer, Dr. Steve Weinrauch and on-staff veterinarian, Dr. Denise Petryk to name some health and safety concerns for your pets this winter. Here is what they had to say:
#1 – Packing on the Pounds
Pet owners should keep a close eye on their dog’s weight over the winter. You aren’t the only one sneaking a few extra treats as weather cools down! Table scraps and extra treats can add up quickly—just a 5 oz. serving of dark meat turkey for your small dog can be the caloric equivalent of an entire 8-inch pumpkin pie for you. For more resources on keeping your pet fit and trim visit Trupanion.com/pet-obesity.
#2 – Gobbling Up Gifts and Decorations
The new decorations around the house can be awfully tempting for playful and curious dogs, but the tinsel, ornaments, and gifts around the house typically aren’t edible. Trupanion sees 10% more foreign body ingestion claims in November and December than other times of the year.
#3 – Tempting Toxins
Toxic foods like chocolate, onions, and grapes aren’t hard to find around the house during the winter and indoor plants like poinsettias and holly can be dangerous when ingested. Many dog owners also use antifreeze in the winter without knowing that the sweet liquid is tempting and toxic for our pups. Trupanion sees 24% more toxicity claims in December than any other time of the year.
#4 – Dropping Temperatures
While many pets have fur to protect them from the cold, dogs need plenty of time to acclimate to the colder weather. Keep your pets indoors as much as possible, especially small, sick, or short-haired dogs. Winter is a great time to look into indoor training or obedience classes, like agility and flyball, so your dog can get plenty of mental and physical exercise.
#5 – Cold Pups
As we increase temperatures of our homes, many dogs actually start to shed in the winter and may need an extra layer to keep warm. Consider putting a sweater, coat, or boots on your short haired dog outside. When spending time outside in the cold, keep an eye on your dog’s extremities for signs of frostbite—most of Trupanion’s frostbite claims reference the ears— and if your dog is shivering, take them inside.
#6 – Salty Paws
The salt and chemicals used to melt snow can be damaging to your dog’s paws and upsetting to their digestive system. Wipe your dog’s paws off as they come inside and prevent them from licking the salt and chemicals. Boots or petroleum jelly can also help protect their paws from ice and snow.
#7 – Winter Skin Solutions
Dogs get dry, flaky skin in the winter just like humans do. Use a humidifier and provide plenty of drinking water in your home — your pet’s skin will thank you. Bathe your pet less frequently and make sure to completely dry them after baths. Brushing their coat stimulates blood circulation and can help improve the overall condition of their skin.
#8 – Fitness and Exercise
If it’s not too cold out for you, your dog can get some aerobic exercise outside that will also keep them warm. Walking in wooded areas is a good way to protect them from chilly wind gusts. If it’s too cold, entice them to exercise indoors with tug-of-war, fetch, or a playdate with another pet-friend.
#9 – Slips, Falls, Strains, and Sprains
Any dog can slip on the ice, but older dogs are especially prone to a fall and the cold weather can exacerbate pain and stiffness from arthritis. Trupanion has seen claims from lameness to CCL ruptures after a dog has slipped on the ice, even a broken tooth after a dog slipped and fell, hitting his chin on a log. Be careful and watch your step!
#10 – Winter Car Safety
Don’t leave your dog in your car when it’s particularly cold out. Your car can act like a refrigerator as it holds in the cold. When in doubt, leave your pet at home when you know you’ll have to leave them unattended in the car.