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Friday, January 16, 2009

Winter survial tips for the green dog!

There is nothing I like better than playing in the snow, (well, except agility, of course.) See? That's me and Gracie the other day, wrestling away.

But, if you live in many parts of the US, it's been just plain frigid the past couple of days! This morning on our trip out to 'do our business' it was -13F. Now that's cold! No romping out there today.

There are a lot of dangers in the winter months for us dogs. Today, we thought it would be a good idea to share some winter survival tips for the green dog, or aspiring green dog. So, here are our top 15 tips. Feel free to spread the word!

#1 Us Green dogs, we're cherished members of our families, and spend time indoors with our peeps. Many folks, unfortunately, don't feel the same way and leave their dog's outside even in the harshest of conditions.

Spread the word with those you can about the dangers to dogs when keeping them outside. If you see a dog chained outside, this great site - Unchain Your Dog - has some wonderful tips on what you can do to help, and flyers you can share. And you can print it out to help spread the word. We want every dog to be as safe and comfortable as possible.

#2 The salt and other chemicals used to melt snow and ice can not only irritate the pads of your pet's feet, but if they are ingested (like when we lick our paws after coming inside) they can be very toxic. Keep your pet away from the streets and sidewalks that have had salt put down. And if they have to venture out into these areas, be sure and wipe down your dog's paws the minute they come in from outside with a damp cloth. An even better idea would be to use an Earth friendly and safe paw wipe, like this one.

#3 A week or so ago, we had a nasty ice storm. Now Mum never puts down ice melters around our house, because they are harmful and toxic to pets. We have a patio that goes out to the backyard. The morning of that ice storm (which we didn't know had occurred when we got up), Mum let me out the backdoor and I went flying across the patio, skidding on the ice. Not an ideal situation, 'cause I could get hurt. So what did Mum do? She took the mat that we keep in the garage and put it out on the patio over the ice, so Gracie and I could safely travel out to the backyard to do our biz. Worked great!

If you have ice around your home and want to keep us pups safe, and 2-leggers as well, there is a great product on the market - Safe Paw - that melts ice and is safe for us pups.

#4 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.

If your dog needs to do his/her 'biz,' and it's that cold outside, don't hesitate to put a nice warm dog coat (and even boots, if necessary) on your pup. They need it. Even for a sporting dog like me, will wear both if it makes me more comfy outside. Yes, I'll even wear my RuffWear boots! You can find some awesome green dog coats and boots on our RaiseAGreenDog Portal Site!

And be sure and make that trip out to 'potty' quickly, K?

#5 Trim the excess fur from footpads and toes of us longer haired dogs. It sure makes it more comfy on our toes in the snow. That fur is a catalyst for building up those painful and nasty ice balls between our toes. And why not add a little Salmon oil on their paws to keep the ice balls from forming, and they can lick it off safely when they come in?

#6 Be super careful with your dogs around rivers, creeks, ponds and lakes. Us dogs are drawn to those areas like magnets and during the winter months they can be deceivingly dangerous. They make look frozen, but many times they aren't (a very tempting danger), and the water can be super cold, creating hypothermia, just like in humans.

#7 Us dogs love to go for car rides. But don't leave us in there without you, K? Cars act as refrigerators in cold weather and we can again suffer from hypothermia. And a running car can accumulate dangerous carbon monoxide levels inside when idling.

#8 Dogs can get frostbite, did you know that? 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, courtesy of the Absaroka Search Dogs. It has great info on recognizing hypothermia and frostbite in dogs, and what to do if you suspect a danger.

#9 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 some. 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.

#10 During the cold winter months, we are probably all utilizing an additional heating source, like a fireplace. These heating sources can be dangerous to us dogs. Be sure and keep a good eye on us and keep us away from any new dangers in the house during the winter. Use a barrier, like an x-pen if need be.

#11 Watch out for that anti freeze! It can leak onto driveways and roads and it smells and tastes really good to us 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 handy, just in case of an emergency.

#12 Be sure and 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?

#13 Puppies are much more sensitive to the elements than us adult dogs. So take the necessary precautions. You may want to use paper training during the dead of winter if you are potty training. And if your dog is sensitive to the cold due to age, illness or breed type, take him outdoors only to relieve himself and make the trips quickly.

#14 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.

#15 And when it warms up a bit, get out there and have fun with your dog! 'Cause us dogs know how to have fun.

Stay safe!


  1. I clicked my thumbs up on my Stumble tool bar. I hope that Srumbled you! Great story for us today, Johann and Gracie.

  2. All great ideas but I wonder what riding around in cars - number 7 - has to do with green dogs. IF more public transit allowed dogs on board, then we could take dogs on long walks and come back by bus, streetcar, subway or train if it got too cold, etc. See "Dogs on Board!" at

    Also, one more idea: For preventing snow sticking to hairy bits on paws, try a little vegetable oil.

  3. Thanks Theresa!

    Hi Anon - sure wish more pets were allowed on public transport. But in the's just good safety measure to mention how dangerous cars can be in cold temps.

    Also, good point on putting oil on the paws to prevent ice balls, thanks! But I would use something more healthy than vegetable oil, because us pups lick our paws.

    Maybe us some of our salmon oil supplement, or get an all natural petroleum free paw balm.

    Thanks for stopping by!

  4. Wonderful,informative post! Thanks so much for sharing these tips!

  5. Thank you for this timely post! My dog loves the snow, but last night he shreeked in pain because of the ice on his paws. My dog loves his Ruff wear backpack, but hates the boots. I took your advice and got some paw balm for him. Cross your paws it works out for him!


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