By Kelly Doyle Duncan
"Sure your dog has a beautiful fur coat, but that's not enough protection for the upcoming cold weather months. Before the mercury dips too low, make sure you and your four-legged friends are ready."
Maybe you look forward to it and maybe you dread it, but whatever your opinion on winter, one thing is true - it's a time when our beloved dogs need a little more care. Sure your dog has a beautiful fur coat, but that's not enough protection for the upcoming cold weather months. Before the mercury dips too low, make sure you and your four-legged friends are ready.
In the warmer months, booties are great for protecting paws from rocks and debris. In the winter, it's the ice, salt and antifreeze that can injure them. Both salt and ice can have sharp edges which can cause injury and salt pellets can burn a dog's paw pads. During walks, your dog's paws can also pick up deicers, antifreeze or other chemicals that could be toxic. Booties are great because they protect against all these elements plus they help your dog's grip on the ice. If your dog refuses to wear booties, paw waxes offer great protection, and make sure you wash and dry their paws thoroughly after being outside.
Dog coats and sweaters aren't just a pet fashion statement. Dogs with short or shaved fur or smaller breeds of dogs need the extra protection from the biting cold. And when fur gets wet it loses much of its insulating ability. When shopping for a dog sweater or coat, make sure you get the correct fit. Also make sure it doesn't affect your dog's ability to see or move comfortably.
Time for Reflection
During winter's shorter days, you'll probably be doing more dog walking in dark pre-dawn mornings and dark nights. Make sure you dog is easy to see with a reflective collar, or use a reflective leash with LED lights for dogs.
Ditch the Itch
During the winter months, the cold air outside and the warm, dry air inside leave our skin dry and flakey. It's the same for our dogs. Consider using a humidifier to add moisture into the air which helps keep skin hydrated. Essential fatty acids, like fish oil, help support a healthy skin & coat. Regular brushings can also help with this issue, as it gets rid of dead hair and stimulates your dog's skin to produce more oils. If you give your dog a bath, use natural shampoos that soothe skin.
A Spill That Can Kill
Sure, you probably use pet-friendly ice melts, but that doesn't mean your dog won't come across dangerous chemicals while out on walk, so steer clear of spills, like coolant and antifreeze, which are a lethal poison for dogs and cats. Be sure to thoroughly clean up any spills from your vehicle.
Enjoy the Great Indoors
The threat of frostbite to dogs is real, so don't leave your dog outside for long periods of time. Even sunny winter days can be deceiving, as wind chill can make the actual temperature colder than it really is. When it's cold or wet out, keep younger, older and sick pets indoors.
Remember, if it's too cold for you, it's probably too cold for your pet. Use common sense, and follow these guidelines, and you can keep your dogs safe and healthy through the winter months.
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