As much of the country is in a deep freeze right now, it’s the perfect time to talk about how to keep your dog safe this winter. Winter poses a lot of hidden hazards that you may not have considered before, so it’s good to be aware of the extra things you need to pay attention to this time of year. Here are our top 5 tips to keep your furry friends cozy and safe this winter.
#1 – Keep them warm
Even the most snow-loving dogs will get cold eventually. If your dog is small or has short or thin hair, they may need a coat when they go outside on frigid days. When they’re at the back door ready to come in, don’t hesitate to bring them inside. Make sure there’s a warm spot in the house for them to come into. If it’s really cold out, a dog house is not enough protection for them against the elements. Remember: no dog should “live” outside 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Every pup parent should know the symptoms of hypothermia. They include a blue tinge to the skin or lips, lethargy, and a lack of appetite. Shivering is another sign that something may be very wrong with your dog. Hypothermia is a medical emergency. If you suspect your dog has become hypothermic, they need to be taken to the vet immediately.
#2 – Limit bathing
You know how your hands dry out quickly in the winter if you wash them too much? The same goes for your dog’s skin. Washing them too often in the colder months can dry them out. While you don’t want to go the entire winter without washing or grooming your dog, try to limit baths to no more than once a month. When bath time is over, dry them as best as you can afterward.
#3 – Don’t leave them in the car
Just like how a car can turn into an oven on a hot summer day, it can become a refrigerator very quickly on a cold day. Do your dog a favor and leave them in the warmth of your home when you are out running errands.
#4 – Protect their feet
Salt, snow, and de-icing chemicals can wreak havoc on your dog’s feet in the winter time. It’s extremely important to wipe off your dog’s feet every time they come in from outside in the winter. Salt and other de-icing chemicals can be toxic if your dog licks their feet, and snow stuck between the pads of your dog’s paws can become uncomfortable mats. Wiping your dog’s feet also gives you the opportunity to check for sores or cuts that may be caused by ice or other obstacles. Booties and waxes can also be a great way to help protect your dog’s paws.
#5 – Beware of antifreeze
Antifreeze is a deadly danger for pets, as it has a sweet taste that is appealing to animals but is highly toxic. If you catch your dog drinking something that might be antifreeze, you should take them to the vet IMMEDIATELY. Antifreeze can be deadly.
It’s always a good idea for pet parents to keep the ASPCA Poison Control number in their phones or somewhere accessible, in case of emergency: (888) 426-4435
(H/T: USA Today)