Tips to Help Keep Your Dog Safe & Healthy This Winter

Tips to Help Keep Your Dog Safe and Healthy This Winter

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With winter fast approaching, it’s a good idea to make sure you are prepared, whether your dog is braving the elements or staying warm and cozy indoors. We have gathered some great information to help you give your pet a little extra comfort and care this winter.

Outdoor Activity
Just because it’s cold outside doesn’t mean your pet must stay indoors all the time, but exposure to extreme temperatures should be kept to a minimum. It’s absolutely great to continue to keep your dog active in the winter, but make sure your dog is adequately covered and that their paws don’t suffer from the icy and salted sidewalks.

Thick-haired dogs (think Huskies and German shepherds) already have a dense coat of fur, so there’s no need for them to have a sweater, but smaller animals with shorter hair, like Chihuahuas and Dachshunds, definitely need the extra coverage. Keep a close eye on your dog’s paws and footpads. Prolonged exposure to the cold can turn into frostbite, and salt can aggravate and irritate paws when it gets between the toes. If you are walking your dog in the early morning or late evening, be sure to wear a reflective coat or vest.

Staying Warm
To keep your dog comfortable inside this winter, place their bed in a draft-free and reasonably warm spot. Avoid setting up your dog’s bed near a radiator or space heater to ward off accidental burns. If your dog is more of an outdoor dog, you still need to make sure they have a warm place to rest when it gets too cold outside. Put blankets in a well-insulated dog house or crate that will enable your dog to get away from the ice and snow. Do make sure to thoroughly dry off your dog after a trek through the snow. The wet and chill will cling to their fur and make it harder for them to warm up, which in turn can lead to frostbite or even hypothermia.

Holiday Plants and Decor
With the holidays come more decorations, which can amount to a greater chance of your dog getting into mischief. Decorations, plants, and gift supplies can all spell disaster if your dog is a wily explorer.

Several types of holidays plants can cause vomiting and diarrhea when ingested, other types can be quite toxic. Make sure all holiday flora is up and out of reach from your dog. Decorations pose health hazards depending on the size and material. Glass ornaments can be broken and ingested, and wiring for tree lights can cause electric shock when chewed. Use caution when decorating and lighting your house. Tinsel and angel hair can cause intestinal obstruction in dogs (and cats), so it’s best to avoid this altogether.

Foods and Sweets
When holiday foods make their way into your home, it’s important to make sure your dog can’t get ahold of anything. Chocolate and candy can be toxic for dogs, as are raisins and alcohol.
Keep all holiday foods away from the edges of counters or out of low-lying dishes to eliminate easy access.

You may be tempted to give your dog bones from a holiday dinner, but this is also best avoided. Bird bones can splinter and puncture your dog’s internal organs, and bones with leftover fat can cause vomiting and diarrhea. Should your dog eat something you suspect is harmful, be sure to call your vet right away. The best treats to give your dogs are made specifically for them, and many pet retailers these days offer plenty of options for pet-friendly holiday confections.

Less Attention
It’s easy for our pets to receive less attention this time of year. But with all of the hustle and bustle, leaving your dog for long periods or not giving them enough attention can lead to bouts of destructive behavior. The best way to avoid this is to find a dog sitter or dog walking service, or to board your animal for a few days. Keeping your pet occupied and active will be better for you and them in the long run.

Written by Janice Miller of Safetytoday.org

Photo by wildehilde2002