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Winterizing Your Dog
Two things we have used for our
Beagles to get through the cold weather months are coats and boots. While
Beagles may have double coats, they lack the thick fur of a Golden Retriever or
Collie, so a Beagle who spends most of the time indoors may tend to get cold
(shivering is a giveaway!). We use a harness when leash walking, so we either
use a coat that has a slot in it to allow a leash clip to slip through to attach
to the harness clip or we loosen the harness and put it over the coat. Beyond
that, there are many different fabrics and styles, depending on the magnitude of
the deep-freeze in your area, and how fashion forward your pooch needs to be.
Another important key to good
winter canine health is to keep your dog's feet warm and protected. During the
winter, snow, ice, and ice melting products can irritate the pads on your
dog's paws. You can buy boots that either attach with velcro, or boots that are
made of rubber, balloon-like material that are easy to slip on and off. These
boots are good in any weather to protect your dog's paws, especially if you have
an older dog, as we do, who drags a rear foot and damages his toenails.
There are also wax-like materials
that you can apply directly on your dog's pads to protect them from the salt
thrown down on sidewalks. Always be sure to clean your dogs pads thoroughly when
you bring them in from a walk to ensure no salt or ice is trapped between their
feet or in the fur on the bottom of the paws.
Here are some additional hints
from veterinarian, Nancy Kay, DVM from her blog
1. Just as arthritis can be more problematic for us when the temperature drops,
so too does this apply to our animals. If your best buddy appears stiff first
thing in the morning or is more tentative when navigating stairs or jumping up
and down off the furniture, I encourage you to contact your veterinarian. These
days, there are so many beneficial treatment options for soothing arthritis
discomfort. For your pet’s sake, make the effort to learn more about them.
2. When the temperature drops, outdoor kitties like to snuggle up against car
engines for extra warmth. Be sure to provide plenty of notice before you start
up your engine lest a “kitty squatter” sustain serious injury as a result of
moving auto parts. Vocalize and tap the hood a few times. Better yet, lift the
hood to alert any slumbering guests of your intentions.
3. Antifreeze is terribly toxic for dogs and cats. Even a few licks of the stuff
can cause kidney failure and severe neurological symptoms, usually resulting in
death. Unfortunately, most antifreeze products have a sweet flavor making them
appealing to dogs. Cats are too discriminating to voluntarily taste the stuff,
but should they step in antifreeze, they will ingest enough to be toxic during
their grooming process. Please prevent your pets from having any access to
antifreeze by checking under your vehicles for leaks and storing antifreeze
containers in a safe place.
4. Wintertime is definitely dress-up time for dogs, when the clothing is
functional rather than just adorable. Just like us, many dogs are more
comfortable outside when wearing an extra layer. Smaller dogs in particular have
difficulty maintaining a normal body temperature when exposed to freezing
conditions. If the love of your canine life happens to be an arctic breed
(Malamute, Husky, Samoyed), no need for canine clothing!
5. Regardless of season, all animals need access to water round-the-clock. If
your pet is reliant on an outdoor water bowl, strategize a way to prevent the
water from freezing. Water bowl heaters work well. Additionally moving water is
more resistant to freezing- consider creating a little “drinking fountain” for
6. Sure the weather is cold, but your dogs still need plenty of exercise for
their physical as well as their psychological well being. Besides, there’s
nothing quite like the feeling of relaxing by the fire with a content and tired
dog at your side! If the weather is truly too inclement for both of you to be
outdoors, look for an indoor dog park or consider doggie day care, assuming your
dog enjoys such venues.
7. I’m all for hiking with dogs off leash, but in winter, be extra cautious
around ponds and lakes for fear of thin ice. Not only is falling through the ice
life threatening for dogs, it creates a situation that often becomes life
threatening for the humans involved in the rescue operation.
8. Salt on sidewalks and roads and even ice that adheres to all of that fuzzy
hair between your dogs toes can create irritation and sores. Inspect and rinse
your dog’s tootsies as needed.
9. I strongly encourage having dogs and cats live indoors. If your living
situation absolutely prevents this, and there are no other viable alternatives,
please provide your pet with an enclosed shelter that is warmed by a heating
device and contains plenty of clean, dry bedding. Also, remember that your pet
needs just as much attention from you in frigid temperatures as during the
10. ’Tis the time of year when we humans tend to overindulge, eating all kinds
of things we shouldn’t. Don’t allow your pets to become a victim of this holiday
spirit. In addition to adding unwanted and unhealthy pounds, eating rich and
fatty foods predisposes them to gastrointestinal upset and pancreatitis either
of which could land your four-legged family member in the hospital for several
days (not to mention create some significant rug-cleaning expenses for you).
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