Keep Your Dog Healthy During Winter

dogs feet in winterWinter can be a great time of year with deep white snow and beautiful countrysides, but it is also a time to take caution with your dogs. Freezing temperatures, chemical hazards and frozen ground are some of the issues you have to learn to deal with as a dog owner in areas that experience harsh winter weather.


Exercise for you dog is one of the top issues that comes with the increase of snow and ice. If you live in an urban area you may take to walking your pets on the sidewalks and even streets.  This is where we find a big concern, the chemicals and salts that used to melt and prevent ice on roads, sidewalks and driveways can be a huge health risk for dogs and even cats.  When your dog or cat walk on the salt it irritates their pads causing them to lick their feet and ingest the salt/chemicals.  This can cause a potentially fatal reaction in your pets.

But you need to exercise your dog, so what can you do?  Using dog booties to protect your dog’s feet from not only the chemicals, but also the cold ground is a great start. Or, if your dog refuses to wear them you can apply a layer of petroleum jelly before your walks and wash and dry their feet when you come back into the house.  Just remember their feet will be cold so use lukewarm water and not hot. For your own home be sure to use pet safe deicers on your drives and walkways to keep yours as well as other dogs safe.

Another huge concern is anti-freeze ingestion.  Leaking cars or careless persons filling their radiators can leave deadly puddles where they park on streets and driveways. Accidents can happen in your own garage if that is where your critters sleep or spend the day. Dogs and cats are drawn to the smell and taste of anti-freeze and will quickly clean up the whole puddle. They can chew into a jug of anti-freeze left in the open even if you don’t spill it on the ground. Ingesting anti-freeze can be fatal to dogs and cats if not treated quickly.  If you pet shows any of these signs, take them directly to your veterinarian:  vomiting, seizures, quickened breathing and abnormal sleepiness.

To be certain your dog does not come into contact with anti-freeze keep your own supply out of reach at all times and do not allow your dog free range of areas where they can easily wonder off and come into contact with these spills.  Check your vehicles for leaks, cleaning them up and fixing them immediately.

Know that dogs are very susceptible to hypothermia and frostbite, especially the small and elderly as well as short, single coated dogs. It should go without saying, but subzero temperatures are no place for a dog for extended periods of time. Shivering, lethargy and clumsiness are signs of the onset of hypothermia in dogs. If you come across a dog in this condition, get them to a vet or report it to the police or animal control. The next phase is coma and death.

Just these few tips could do a lot to save pet lives everywhere, so do your part and either share this article with your friends or educate them yourself. You don’t know how many lives you might save with this simple act alone.