Just as winter can present new safety challenges for us, it can create similar issues for our beloved family dogs. Here are 4 winter safety tips to consider as a dog owner:
- Salt used by your neighbours (or yourself) or even from salting/sanding trucks in your city can be dangerous for your pet. Some dogs will lick it up off the ground or from their fur and it can make them sick. It can also irritate the pads on their paws so doggie boots can be a really good idea. I buy a salt substitute that still works well on removing the ice from our front and back steps and sidewalk but is safe for animals and environmentally friendly. Even so, I clean my dog’s paws off when she comes back inside just to be sure that there’s no chance of irritation especially if she’s been off our property where I can’t be sure of what’s been used. She won’t wear boots (just rips them off and chews them up) so I wash and dry her paws when she comes inside.
- Another issue with dog’s paws after being outside in the winter is that ice balls can form on the fur that sticks out from between the pads and this can make walking really painful. I trim that hair on a regular basis (or get it done by the groomer) and check her paws when she comes inside. Again, if your dog will tolerate boots, they can help with this issue too. If not, you can put a tiny bit of petroleum jelly on her paws (just enough to protect them from the snow and ice but not enough to make walking slippery and dangerous) before she heads outside.
- My dog has allergies and very sensitive skin so we’re always dealing with skin irritations. Winter can make this worse. Of course Trinity loves the snow and romping and leaping through it, followed by throwing herself down into the snow to make doggie snow angels is one of her favourite things to do. So keeping a towel by the back door and drying her off as best I can when she comes inside helps to keep her skin from getting too dry and flaky. I bathe her as rarely as possible and always use a moisturizing shampoo followed up by a moisturizing cream (both recommended by the vet) when I do need to give her a bath. Brushing her regularly can also help to distribute the natural oils in her skin and keep it from getting too dried out.
- If it’s too cold outside for you, then it’s too cold outside for your dog. We have neighbours who used to have a dog and they kept it outside nearly 24/7 – thunderstorms, 95 degree heat with high humidity, blizzards, ice storms – no matter the weather they were always tying that poor dog up outside (and yes, they got sick of me showing up at their house to tell them to let their dog in!). On those bitter cold days, my dog goes outside to do her business and that’s it. No walks, no playing outside. As in the summer, don’t leave your dog in your car in the winter either. Dogs can get hypothermia just like we can. You can also help your dog stay warm by buying him/her a coat, especially if they have short hair.