Well, winter is finally upon us, this morning the weather report said it was -22 Celsius with a wind-chill to make it -39 Celsius…I’m not sure what is worse, the snow or the cold!?!?
In celebration of the wintry weather, I’d like to offer a few safety tips.
Cold: In my opinion, our winters are too cold to leave dogs outside for long periods of time without heated shelter. It’s easy to forget how cold it is out there when you aren’t out there so my rule of thumb is to stay out with Bear until I am cold. If it’s too cold for me it’s too cold for my dog. In the days before I could bring Bear with me to work we went outside for 3-4 short rounds of fetch in the yard during the winter as opposed to an hour long session. Like humans, dogs are susceptible to frost bite and there are great products available now to keep dogs warm including jackets and boots. If it’s too cold to go outside for more than a potty break, dog daycare is a great option to combat cabin fever!
Snow: The snow can be painful for those longer coated dogs, especially when it balls up in the fur on their toes, under their armpits and along their groin. A combination of grooming, boots and a coat can keep this to a minimum. Also be aware that your dog works harder to run in the snow so she is more likely to over exert herself. (Ever been snowshoeing?)Remember to call her to you for breaks if she won’t take them on her own and have water available to drink. Also be aware that many double coated breeds have double coats to protect them from the elements…so while shaving your golden might seem like a good idea, you may be doing more harm than good!
Darkness: For those of you that walk your dogs in the winter, I highly recommend that both you and your dog wear reflective clothing. With treacherous sidewalks, I know many people run/walk on the roads and increased visibility offers drivers a better chance of avoiding you and your dog. Reflective vests for humans are available at safety stores (and some running stores) and many dog jackets now come with reflective tape or reflective piping sewn into the seams. While a reflective collar or a blinking collar tag may sound like a good idea, they can be very hard to see from behind or on a long coated dog. The best placement on dogs for reflective or illuminated products is along the sides and back of the dog.
Winter chemicals: This time of year we bring out lots of nasty things for dogs including certain de-icers, salts and anti freeze. Make sure chemicals are contained in a place where Fido can’t reach (a locked or latched cupboard or room and have a look at the contents of the stuff you are using on your sidewalk. There are many pet friendly products out there to keep you from slipping and Fido’s paws from burning and if labels of de-icers aren’t clear, kitty litter and sand offer great traction!