Keep your dog in top shape during the winter months with these care tips.
- Don’t leave your dog outside in the cold for long periods of time. Be attentive to your dog’s body temperature, and limit its time outdoors.
- Keep your dog warm, dry and away from drafts. Tiles and uncarpeted areas may become extremely cold, so make sure to place blankets and pads on floors in these areas.
- Your dog needs a well-groomed coat to keep properly insulated. Short- or coarse-haired dogs may get extra cold, so consider a sweater or coat as long as it does not impede the use of a harness. Long-haired dogs should have excess hair around the toes and foot pads trimmed to ease snow removal and cleaning.
- Towel or blow-dry your dog if it gets wet from rain or snow. It is important to dry and clean its paws, too. This helps avoid tiny cuts and cracked pads. A little petroleum jelly may soften the pads and prevent further cracking.
- Don’t leave your dog alone in a car without proper precautions. If the engine is off, the temperature in the car will get too cold.
- Antifreeze, which often collects on driveways and roadways, is highly poisonous. Although it smells and tastes good to your dog, it can be lethal.
- Rock salt, used to melt ice on sidewalks, may irritate footpads. Be sure to rinse your dog’s feet after a walk with a warm, damp cloth or towel and be sure to dry them off afterwards.
- Provide plenty of fresh water. Your dog is just as likely to get dehydrated in the winter as in the summer.
- Frostbite is your dog’s winter hazard. To prevent frostbite on its ears, tail and feet, don’t leave your dog outdoors for too long.
- Be very careful of supplemental heat sources. Fireplaces and portable heaters can severely burn your dog. Make sure all fireplaces have screens, and keep portable heaters out of reach.
- Dogs can be more susceptible to illness in the winter. Take your dog to a veterinarian if you see any suspicious symptoms.
- Don’t use over-the-counter medications on your dog without consulting a veterinarian.