Winterizing your dog
Fall marks the inevitable onset of winter and the time to prepare
-- we haul out
the winter clothes, insulate our homes, gather up the boots and
tune up our cars.
And, in the midst of all this preparation, don't forget that it's
equally important to
winterize your dog. Whether you want to continue to walk your
dog daily or just
let him enjoy a regular backyard outing you need to condition
him for the winter
Snow, ice, and the typical chemicals used during winter all have
the potential for
causing serious problems. Chemicals used to combat cold temperatures
dangerous if ingested and contact with them can crack the pads
on a dogs' feet
and dry them out. My fall dog catalogs list some products to use
on snow and
ice that are guaranteed safe for pets. I would look into some
of these if you're a
Snow and ice are dangerous because they can cut into the pads.
You can and
should condition your dog's pads to stand up to these seasonal
pads will toughen up some by walking, however, this isnt
the complete solution.
If you and your dog have been couch potatoes all summer, it will
to start a walking program gradually and extend the distance slowly
reasonably. Do not start off by jogging as you will put too much
stress on both
of you. Do stop along the way to take a look at the beautiful
fall colors and
offer your dog a drink of water.
There are also products available to toughen and strengthen the
pads and feet
of dogs. They are used when feet are sore from exercise. Some
designed to prevent drying and cracking and may be used for elbow
One of the products is designed to shield your dogs paw
with a thin coat of
natural wax to prevent contact with road chemicals, hot sand,
or cold pavement.
It is non-staining and non-allergic. Products like these are most
often used by
owners of hunting dogs but certainly have a place in the average
Note of caution: Please do not think that you can substitute household
for the above. You could make your dog very sick and cause serious
Get in the habit of checking your dog's feet for debris after
a walk. Make sure
the pads are not cracked or dried out. Rinse the paws in some
warm water to
remove any chemicals. Even if you dont see any salt or sand
on your walk, it
may be there and get into the area between the toes. It can irritate
skin, and if your dog licks its paws ingestion of the chemicals
could cause an
Fur in and around the foot should be kept well-trimmed. This is
in preventing snow from building up between the toes. For trimming
recommend a couple types of scissors: surgical scissors which
are quite small
and have rounded tips; bandage or nurses scissors which are angled
rounded tips. Both types of scissors are fairly small and lessen
the possibility of
you accidentally cutting your dog.
Keep nails well-trimmed, this will help keep the quick back. When
walks across the bare floor you should not hear his nails click.
Another suggestion for preventing some of these problems are dog
and more dogs are wearing them. You may laugh, but it makes a
lot of sense.
Early boot models did not fit well and were quite expensive. However,
fall catalogs I've seen a wide variety that appear to be more
adaptable to a
dog's feet. If you plan on going this route, I would suggest you
now to let your dog get used to them. My dogs adjusted in a fairly
because I was consistent in putting them on. Make sure that whatever
purchase is easy to put on. Dogs dont like to stand still
for a long time while
you attach strange things to their feet.
In addition to boots, Im all for coats, blankets, and sweaters
for dogs. I think
they are suitable for small dogs, single-coated dogs, older dogs,
and house dogs.
But wait for the really cool weather. If you are walking consistently,
will build up a heavier fur coat and this will help. Common sense
will tell you
when to start using a coat.
In the past, when ordering these items from the catalogs I've
found that even
following their measurement instructions does not produce a properly
covering. This may have changed, but I think its simpler
to purchase one
locally that you can try on your dog. If youre handy with
a sewing machine,
you can make one yourself. I took an old blanket coat for one
of my dogs and
used it as a pattern for one of my other dogs. If you dont
have an old one, or
cannot find a pattern, check with your neighbors and friends.
Frostbite is a another common danger during winter. It can affect
the toes, ears
and scrotum. Initially, the skin appears pale white but once circulation
re-established the area becomes red and swollen and may begin
While all dogs are at risk, prick-eared dogs are very susceptible
And it only takes a matter of seconds for tissue injury to occur.
frostbite, do not leave your dog out for more than several minutes
temperatures fall below zero. It is better to let them out several
times for a few
minutes rather than making them stay out until they are done.
It is also helpful to shovel an area close to the door for your
pets to use in the
coldest weather. We shovel down to the ground and keep the area
If your dog does get frostbite, soak the affected parts with warm
15-20 minutes or place the dog's paws in a bowl of tepid water
heated to about
90 degrees. Do not rub the area. Simply pat gently dry. Keep the
dog warm and
seek veterinary help since further treatment may be needed. As
returns the dog may feel pain. It is necessary to prevent biting
at the skin and
causing further injury.
Hypothermia is also a possibility with our extreme temperatures.
This is most
likely to occur in dogs that have been in freezing water, even
for a few minutes.
Dogs that do not have heavy coats may be more adversely affected.
If you suspect hypothermia, dry the dog off by rubbing vigorously
with a towel.
Then, wrap a warm blanket around the dog and take its rectal temperature.
the temperature is below 98.5 get to a vet or emergency service
Continue to keep the dog warm but avoid overheating. If you do
not know how
to take your dogs rectal temperature, take your dog toa
In closing, Id like to suggest that you make an effort to
keep your home as cool
as is comfortable. It is far healthier for you and your pets.
It is said to cut down
on colds and it makes coming and going far less traumatic. Our
pets are far
more comfortable and they shed less. Try and get out with your
week on mild days and take a walk or play in the backyard. They
love to help
making a snowman or chasing a snowball or two, just remember not