Monday, November 19, 2012

Winter Care Tips for Your Canine

 General Concerns
As winter approaches please keep the following precautions in mind:
  • Monitor your dogs when they are outside, don’t leave them out in the cold for long periods of time. Wind chill makes days colder than actual temperature readings. Be aware of your dog’s body temperature, and limit its time outdoors.
  • Provide adequate shelter for your dogs. Keeping your dog warm, dry, and away from drafts. Be aware that tiled and uncarpeted areas in your home may become very cold, so if your dog frequents these areas of your home be sure to place blankets or pads on the floors in these areas. 
  • Always be aware of your surroundings when walking or playing outside around frozen rivers, lakes or ponds.  Your dog could slip or jump in and be seriously injured. Or worse.
  • Regular grooming is equally essential during cold winter months.  A well-groomed coat provides better insulation to your dog.  Dogs with short or coarse hair may be more susceptible to the cold, so please consider providing a coat or sweater for them. Dogs with long hair should have the tufts of hair around their toes and pads trimmed to help eliminate snow from accumulating.If you are trimming your own dog, take extra care not to cut the pads or toes. 
  • You may need to increase your dogs calorie intake if it spends a lot of time outdoors.  More energy is required to keep your dogs body temperature regulated so more calories may be necessary to keep them in good body condition.
  • It is important to dry your dog if it gets wet from rain or snow.  Remember to clean and dry its paws too!  Applying a little petroleum jelly or Bag Balm is beneficial to pad health and can help prevent cracking.
  • Leaving a dog alone an a car during cold winter months can be dangerous as well,  
Health Tips
Be aware of the following hazards during winter months:. 
  • Anti-freeze/Engine Coolant can be lethal to your dog.  Dogs often like the smell and taste of Antifreeze/coolant which often collects on driveways and roads.
  • Rock salt, used to melt ice on sidewalks, may irritate foot pads  Be sure to rinse and dry your dog’s feet after a walk.
  • Provide plenty of fresh water. Your dog is just as likely to get dehydrated in the winter as in the summer. Snow is not a satisfactory substitute for water.
  • Frostbite is your dog’s winter hazard. To prevent frostbite on its ears, tail and feet, don’t leave your dog outdoors for too long.
  • Be very careful of supplemental heat sources. Fireplaces and portable heaters can severely burn your dog. Make sure all fireplaces have screens, and keep portable heaters out of reach.
  • Like people, dogs seem to be more susceptible to illness in the winter. Take your dog to a veterinarian if you see any suspicious symptoms.
  • Don’t use over-the-counter medications on your dog without consulting a veterinarian.
Holiday Safeguards
The winter season brings lots of fun holiday festivities, but pet-owners should keep in mind the following special precautions:
  • The holidays are not ideal for introducing a pet into your family. New puppies and dogs require extra attention and a stable environment, which the holiday season doesn’t permit. Also, a puppy is not a toy or gift that can be returned. Instead, the AKC suggests giving a gift representative of the dog to come, such as a toy, a leash, or a bed.
  • Holly, mistletoe and poinsettia plants are pet poisons! Make sure they are kept in places your dog cannot reach.
  • Review holiday gifts for dogs to make sure they are safe. Items such as plastic toys and small rawhide sticks may be dangerous.
  • Remove holiday lights from lower branches of your tree. They may get very hot and burn dogs.
  • Watch out for electrical cords. Pets often try to chew them and may get badly shocked or electrocuted. Place wires out of reach.
  • Avoid using glass ornaments. They break easily and may cut a dog’s feet and mouth.
  • Refrain from using edible ornaments. Your dog may knock the tree over in an attempt to eat them. Also, commercial ornaments may contain paint or toxins in the preservatives.
  • Whether your tree is live or artificial, both kinds of needles are sharp and indigestible. Don’t leave your dog unattended in the room with the tree.
  • Tinsel is dangerous for dogs. It may obstruct circulation and, if swallowed, block the intestines.
  • Alcohol and chocolate are toxic for dogs, even in small amounts. Keep unhealthy, sweet treats and seasonal goodies out of reach.
  • The holiday season is a stressful time for dogs. Try to keep a normal schedule during all the excitement.