10 tips: Keeping your pets safe during ‘Dog Days of Winter’
Pet owners should keep “man’s best friend” in mind as well when it comes to braving the “Dog Days of Winter”. Extreme cold temperatures can be very dangerous for dogs outside and below are 10 tips for dog owners to ensure their pets are safe and comfortable during long periods of extreme cold weather from a Metro Detroit-based dog rescue group.
Doggie Fitness & Relief
During cold weather months, pet owners need to pay more attention to the time spent outside. Pet owners should limit their dogs’ time outside to reduce exposure. When outdoors, dress your dog with an insulated vest, sweater and doggie boots to protect their paws and core.
Nutrition & Adequate Hydration
Dogs that spend most of their time outdoors may need more calories to maintain their energy level in cold weather. Always check with your vet regarding all changes to your dog’s diet. It’s also important to make sure your dog has adequate water outside. Keep it fresh and in a plastic bowl (avoid metal) to prevent it from freezing – contrary to popular belief dogs cannot break ice in a water bowl and you do not want them licking ice or eating snow as a way to hydrate. Snow and ice in an urban setting can be filled with toxins from salt and other antifreeze products that are harmful to your dog’s digestive system.
If Lost Can Find
Always keep a collar on your dog and consider having your pet identified with a microchip. If your dog gets loose, lost or disoriented in cold weather with an ID collar and microchip you will have a fighting chance if your dog is found and can be returned home.
In The Dog House
If your dog must spend significant time outdoors, PLEASE provide adequate sheltering and bedding. Keeping your dog tied up to the porch, stairs, fence or a tree is not humane. A good way to keep your dog secure and comfortable is in a doghouse – raised off the ground with a roof to shed away the elements. In the doghouse, make sure you keep enough straw (avoid hay) to provide a nice bedding for your dog. Straw keeps mold and bacteria down and is a great insulator in the house.
Pet Safety & Winter Hazard
In extreme cold weather, believe-it-or-not, your dog can get frostbite on their paw-pads. Prolonged contact with frozen ground surfaces such as concrete and asphalt can be dangerous for dogs. Be aware of harmful substances such as road salt and other ice melting antifreeze products that can get lodged in between paws causing an irritation or chemical burn. Always wipe down your dog’s paws after spending time outside – this will prevent them from digesting any toxic materials when they decide to lick and clean themselves.
Don’t Leave Dog in Car
Don’t leave your dog in the car unattended for any time during extreme weather periods – cold or hot. Just because most dogs have fur does not mean they can stand near arctic or below temperatures.
Your pet needs a well-groomed coat to keep properly insulated. Short or coarse-haired dogs might get extra cold so consider a sweater or a coat. Long-haired dogs should have their paw hair trimmed to ease in cleaning and snow removal.
House Warming Party
Carefully keep pets warm inside and away from drafts while inside. Also, Keep portable heaters out of reach and make sure all fireplaces have adequate screening. And, of course, never leave your pet alone with an unattended fire.
Puppies do not tolerate the cold as well as adult dogs and may be difficult to housebreak during the winter. If necessary, paper-train your puppy inside if he or she appears to be sensitive to the weather.
And The Best Tip of All!
Keep your dogs with you at all times during the winter months. The best prescription for the Dog Days of Winter is to keep your dog inside with you and your family. The happiest dogs are those who are taken out frequently for walks and exercise but kept inside the rest of the time with you. Be happy, be kind, be humane.