Winter weather brings not only cold temperatures, but often wind, ice, snow, and sleet. The cold weather doesn’t just affect humans, it affects our pets too. While you and your pooch may love walking in a winter wonderland, taking some simple precautions can prevent potential health and safety issues that come with the snowy conditions and cold temperatures.
In honor of October being National Animal Safety and Protection Month, here’s a look at what you need to know in order to keep your pet healthy and safe throughout the winter months.
Exercising Outdoors in the Winter – Keep Your Pooch Safe
Even during the winter, your dog needs exercise every day. However, we want our fur babies to be safe while getting their exercise. Here are a few tips to keep in mind before heading out to the cold:
- Protect Your Dog’s Paws– The ice, snow, and salt on surfaces can all be hard on your dog’s paws, making them sore. Keep your pup’s feet warm and protected from the elements with booties. While many dogs don’t love wearing them, if you let them practice indoors for a few days they’ll probably get the hang of it.
- Microchip Your Dog– According to Petfinder, more dogs are lost during the winter months than during any other time of year. This often occurs because dogs can lose their scent in ice and snow, more easily becoming lost. They can also panic during snowstorms and run off. Microchipping your dog can ensure you can track him if he runs off or gets lost.
- Bundle Up– For small dogs, short-haired dogs, older dogs, puppies, and dogs in extremely cold areas, a coat or sweater may help your pooch’s body stay warm while you’re out on a winter walk.
- Know When Your Dog is Too Cold– Even when you’ve done all the above, being in the cold too long can result in frostbite for your dog. So it’s important to know the signs that your dog is too cold. They include limping, shivering, whining, lethargy, and anxiety. If that’s the case, head inside with your pooch and get warm.
Getting Enough Exercise When You Can’t Get Outdoors
Even if you both love being outdoors in the winter, some days can just be too snowy, windy, or cold to head out for more than just a potty break. However, you understand that your fido still needs to get exercised. What is a pet parent to do? Here are a few ideas to exercise your dog’s body and mind indoors.
- Hide-and-Seek– Have your dog sit and stay in one area and then take a favorite toy and place it somewhere in the house. Then, send your dog to find the toy. Dogs enjoy tracking scents, and this is a fun game that will keep Fido busy and engaged.
- Do Some Training Exercises– Engage your dog and tire him out by teaching him a new skill or working on commands.
- Play Fetch– If you have a big enough area in your home, play fetch with your pup. This works great in a hallway that’s free from obstacles. Toss a ball and reward your dog when he brings it back to you.
Beware of Winter Poisons
The Club notes that just a teaspoon of antifreeze is enough to cause kidney failure in your dog. Make sure any spills are cleaned up immediately and keep antifreeze stored out of reach. If you’re out walking, watch where your dog is sniffing because antifreeze residue may be on streets.
Signs your fur baby may have swallowed antifreeze include vomiting, excessive thirst, drooling, seizures, panting, drunken appearance, and lethargy. Get your dog to a vet right away if you suspect that he or she has ingested antifreeze.
Monitoring Fido’s Health is Especially Important in the Winter
Monitoring your dog’s health is beneficial all year long; but there are reasons why doing so is especially crucial during the winter months. It’s harder to keep your dog active in the winter; and during cold weather, your dog may need more food to deal with the colder temperatures.
One way to know whether your fur baby’s activity level is appropriate and to keep track of his or her health is to use smart collars such as Waggit, a health and well-being monitor that not only offers location tracking technology, but also gives insights on your dog’s vitals, activity level, nutrition, behavioral pattern changes, and more.
While winter comes with some unique fun times, it can also come with certain safety concerns. However, none of them are difficult to overcome if you take a few precautions. Winter can be a wonderful season for you and your fur baby to snuggle up and enjoy some indoor bonding time as well. Keep these tips in mind and keep your best furry companion safe and happy this winter.