Thursday, December 31, 2009
JACK FROST NIPPING AT THEIR NOSE!
I get pictures my friends send to me of their dogs frolicking in the snow and it’s like “Yee Haw” they’re having a grand old time for themselves! I let my dogs out. They do their business and they come sit at the back door waiting for me to let them in again! Granted the temperature is only 27 degrees, but come on guys, you should be having a ball in this stuff! So anyway, I wanted to write about some precautions to take in the winter months in taking care of our dogs.
The first thing the dog owner considers is the temperature outside. I don’t let my dogs stay out in freezing or below freezing temperatures. Maybe that’s why they’re jumping on the back door waiting for me to bring them back in again! I know some of you keep your dogs outside because you say they have beautiful coats because of the cold temperatures. Most of the time, we don’t have to take the same precautions as another dog breed owner might have to do. The German Shepherd carries the thick undercoat to help keep him warmer in weather like this. However, their coats won’t prevent them from getting frostbite on their ears, feet or tail. I notice if my dogs are out in freezing temperatures, they will come back inside and shake their heads because their ears are so cold. Forget about my house dog being outside for too long a time in this cold. Last week she was outside with me when I was cleaning the dog run. She loves to play on the back deck while I clean up her and her daughter’s mess! Anyway, when I was done and came up on the deck, she was shaking. So she is definitely not one that I could leave outside for any length of time. She’d freeze to death. She’s used of the warmth of the heater in the house.
Sometimes an owner will provide extra warm bedding for their dog. My girl has her own rugs that she lays on. Some people will provide a warm blanket in their dog’s crate if this is where they sleep. My one girl, I can’t put anything in her crate, because she starts to eat it. She eats anything she can get her mouth on! None of my dogs are finicky eaters, but she’s the “chow hound!”
Another thing of concern is that some dogs love to lie next to something that is providing them with warmth. For instance, a fireplace, a heater, or vents, etc. Sometimes they snuggle up too close to these things. Avoid space heaters and lamps and place baseboard radiator covers to avoid unnecessary burns. Fireplaces also pose a major threat and a pet-proof system should be used to insure that your dog doesn’t get burnt. My house dog loves to lie right next to the vent in the floor where the heat comes out.
Sometimes we think that our dogs need more food in the winter months. They don’t need an extra layer of fat, unless they live outside. Many times the cold temperatures bring on lazy behaviors and in that case the dog would need fewer calories. Our dogs still need the appropriate exercise. If he’s not getting enough exercise because of the weather conditions, you may want to adjust his food consumption so he doesn’t put on unnecessary pounds. That’s why it’s important to make sure you are feeding your dog the highest quality dog food and supplements to insure a healthy coat and to keep his energy level good for these cold months.
Dogs can dehydrate just as quickly in the winter as summer. Although many dogs eat snow, it is not an adequate substitute for fresh water. If your dog has a water bowl outdoors, check it often and break ice that may form on top. I empty their water bowls every day after I remove the ice and give them clean fresh water to drink.
Keeping your dog clean and well groomed is just as important in the winter as any other time of the year. Your dog needs a clean, well-groomed coat to keep him properly insulated. This is especially important if your dog lives outdoors. After bathing, dry your dog adequately, especially before allowing him outdoors.
It’s important to protect yours dog’s feet. Dogs walk through snow, slush, salt and chemicals and are very likely to sustain an injury to their foot pads unless protected. Now I know you’re not going to see the German Shepherd in dog booties like you might find for the smaller breeds. It’s important to clean your dog's feet every time he comes into the house. Use warm water and clean between the toes really well to remove debris and salt. You can apply a salve to prevent the dog’s feet from cracking. Avoid using any chemical ice-melting compounds or rock salt on your sidewalks, driveways or dog kennels that your dog may contact.
Another important thing to do is to shovel and clear the snow where your dog spends most of his time outdoors. Snow can be a lot of fun but it can also be dangerous for your dog. Snow that’s piled high near fences pose escape hazards that even well trained dogs often can't resist. Keep snow cleared away from fences to prevent your dog from climbing over. Snow and ice often accumulate on rooftops and if the sun is out or as temperatures rise, this accumulation can fall and injure your dog. Be careful when you’re playing outside with your dog. He’s not aware of the dangers of slippery footing. He can run after a snowball that you may throw for him and slip and fall and pull a tendon or worse. Accidents happen so quickly.
Most dog owners know to keep their animals away from toxic exposure. But sometimes we forget. We go in the garage and our dog is following us and this is where the problem can start. We’re not paying attention to the dog. Our mind is somewhere else. With winter comes antifreeze from automobiles. Antifreeze is sweet in taste and dogs will readily lick or drink it. Antifreeze is extremely toxic and just a small amount can be fatal for them. Keep your dog out of the garage and off the driveway where they may encounter antifreeze or other harmful chemicals.
The same precautionary measures that we take in the summer months when it comes to leaving our dogs in the car should also be observed in the winter months. Freezing cold temperatures are the main concern during the winter. Also if the car is left running during the winter (especially in the garage), carbon monoxide poisoning is a real threat.
Pay special attention to the senior dogs or ones who have arthritis during the cold weather. The cold will often aggravate these conditions. It is very important to maintain an exercise regimen with your arthritic dog, but be mindful of slippery surfaces. Insure that he has a warm, dry area to rest when he returns home. Try the adding a Hip & Joint supplement to lubricate the joints and ease the discomfort of arthritis. Vibrant Pets has two formulas that address this condition. Just like people, dogs are more susceptible to other illnesses during the winter weather. As you normally would do, if you see anything out of the ordinary, contact your veterinarian.
So there you have it. Just as we have to be more careful in the winter, so too must we be with our dogs. The snow blankets the earth in a white sparkly diamond dust that begs you to come out and play. It can be a fun time for all, but do make sure you use caution for both you and your dogs before stepping out in the Winter Wonderland!
P.S. I want to know why the little black spider that has lived outside on my small back window is still alive in this freezing cold weather??? When oh when is he going to die and go to “buggy” heaven already??? Does he not know that I’m tired of looking at him with all his “yuckiest ugliness?”
My rating: feeding dogs a top food for the winter months: (4), supplementing him with vitamins, etc. (4)