There are a lot of dangers in the winter months for us dogs. Here are our top tips for keeping your green dog, or aspiring green dog safer during this time of the year.
#1 Salt and other chemicals used to melt snow and ice are really very unhealthy and dangerous for your dog. They can ingest these chemicals by licking their feet and potentially become sick! Keep your pup away from streets and sidewalks with snow and ice melting chemicals to avoid ingestion, and be sure and clean up their paws when coming inside after a nice walk with a good safe plant based soap and water.
As an alternative to melt the ice and snow, use one of the safer products like Safe Paw Ice Melter. It's not only safe for your pup, but safe for the environment too! Or you can do what we do, put down a few non-skid mats on your outside steps, or patio temporarily. We do it and it works great!
#2 When it gets below freezing, it's just not safe for us dogs to be out in the cold for any length of time. Even a half hour in frigid temperatures can cause problems. Be sure to keep a sharp eye on your dog’s body temperature and never leave him in the yard for more than 10 minutes when temperatures dip below freezing.
To keep them warm when they go out to do their 'biz,' don't hesitate to put a nice warm dog coat, like the West Paw CloudBurst Dog Jacket (and even boots, if necessary) on your pup. They need it. Even a sporting dog like me, will wear both if it makes me more comfy outside. Yes, I'll even wear boots! Try these Pawz Biodegradable Natural Dog Boots, or make your own from reused items in your home!
#3 Trim the excess fur from footpads and toes of long haired dogs. It makes it a lot more comfortable for our toes in the snow. That fur is a catalyst for building up those painful and nasty ice balls between our toes. And you can add a little Salmon Oil or Olive Oil on their paws to keep the ice balls from forming, and they can lick it off safely when they come in?
#4 Be very careful with your dogs around rivers, creeks, ponds and lakes. Dogs are drawn to those areas and during the winter months they can be deceivingly dangerous. They may look frozen, but many times they aren't and the water can be super cold, creating hypothermia, just like in humans.
#5 Did you know that dogs can get frostbite? A dog’s ears, feet and tail are highly susceptible to frostbite. So be aware and limit our time outdoors. And keep this link handy. It has great info on recognizing hypothermia and frostbite in dogs, and what to do if you suspect a danger.
#6 My sis Gracie loves to eat snow. A little isn't too bad for us dogs and Gracie thinks its fun, so Mum let's her eat a little. But snow is not a substitute for water. Even in the harshest part of winter, make sure your pup has fresh drinking water available at all time. And remember, filtered is best.
#7 During the winter months, you may be utilizing an additional heating source, like a fireplace. These heating sources can be dangerous to dogs. Be sure and keep an eye on your dog around them, or use a barrier, like an x-pen for safety.
#8 Watch out for that anti freeze! It can leak onto driveways and roads and it smells and tastes really good to dogs. But it is highly poisonous and can be lethal to your canine companion if ingested. Keep this phone number and link (from the ASPCA), as well as your vet and emergency vet number, just in case of an emergency. And keep away from the green stuff!
#9 Don't let your dog off the leash on snow or ice, especially during a snowstorm. Did you know that dogs can lose their scent and easily become lost during these times? More dogs are lost during the winter than during any other season, so make sure yours always wear ID tags, and keep 'em safe, K?
#10 Running around in the snow is one of my absolute favorite things to do. But Mum only let's me when it's safely warm enough. And we don't do it for long. If your dog spends a lot of time engaged in safe outdoor activities during the winter months and is used to it, increase their supply of food, particularly protein, to keep 'em in tip-top shape.
And when it warms up a bit, get out there and have fun with your dog! One of our favorite things is hiking in the snow when it warms up a bit. This past weekend we hiked up the ridge! The snow was soft and the tempers were in the mid 40's! So much fun!
Stay green and safe, K?