Winter Advice for Caring For Your Pets

The autumn weather has been kind to us, but ready or not winter is upon us, and with that comes colder temperatures, wet weather and of course snow. With the harsher weather comes the need for some special considerations for our furry, four-legged friends. Take a look at some key topics to make sure you are keeping your pups safe, warm and properly exercised this winter.

Unfortunately, many dog owners think that because their dog has a furry coat, that they will tolerate the cold better than us humans can. However, this isn’t always the case. Most of our pets live indoors during the year and a cold, harsh weather snap can be just as chilly for them too. During this wintry weather, our pets need a little additional care.

Look out for symptoms of frostbite

When the dog’s body get really cold, the body automatically draws warm blood from the tail, paws and ears to the centre of the dog’s body in an effort to keep warm. These extremities can become so cold that ice crystals are able to form on the skin. Look out for signs of grey or pale coloured skin that feels extremely cold to the touch. It can be very painful for the dog as these frostbitten areas of skin eventually warm up.

Walking

Dogs still need to be walked, even on dreadful winter days. It is necessary however to take certain precautions when doing so. Oftentimes snowballs form on the fur and feet of pooches, making them cold and wet unnecessarily. Tips for keeping them more comfortable while out on walks include keeping the fur trimmed to prevent snow from building up, as well as Vaseline between the toes to help avoid any build-up.

Snowballs are very painful to walk on so it is important to end the walk if you notice any. Snowballs should never be pulled off, instead left to melt off both from paws and fur, so keep plenty of towels handy, and turn the heat up slightly to speed this process along. Street walking is likely best, especially for smaller dogs to avoid drudging through the deep, cold snow.

The sand and salt used to remove snow and ice from the roads can be damaging to the paws, as well as harmful if ingested. It is best to wash your pet’s feet after walking to remove the debris.

Warmth

Sometimes a jacket is required for dogs that are quite young, very old or ill in some way. Breeds with shorter coats such as Bull Terriers or Greyhounds will also appreciate the added warmth of a coat. Feeling the ears and paws of the animal is a good indicator of whether or not they are feeling cold. It may be necessary to shorten walks on freezing cold days, and exercise in a different fashion.

If it’s feeling cold for you, it is for your pet too

When the temperatures plummet and its freezing cold outside, please let your dogs stay inside the home. Dogs that are expected to remain outside run the risk of both hypothermia and frostbite. If your pets remain at home while you are out at work, try to keep your room temperature at around a constant 19-20 degrees C.

Keep your dog safe and well away from antifreeze

Another hazard to our pets that not many dog owners know about, is toxic antifreeze liquid. During the icy spell, motorists will spray this liquid all over the car windows when frozen. It can also leak from the radiator from a car onto the ground. Even contact with just small amounts of antifreeze can be poisonous to our pets, so take extra care when cleaning the frosty car windows. Use a traditional plastic ice scraper instead.

Is your dog feeling the cold?

One excellent way of telling if your dog is too cold when outside is to gauge how you feel too. If you cannot stand at the door without a coat, it will be too cold for your dog out there. You also need to monitor your pet when he is outdoors. Any anxiety, shivering or whining, then it’s a good time to bring him indoors, into the warm room.

Our terrible winter weather brings many concerns for dog owners. Biting winds, numbing frostiness and the bitter cold can all bring discomfort to our special pets. By paying more attention to our best friend’s wellbeing will make sure that you both stay warm and enjoy this winter season.