Guarding Your Dog’s Feet in the Winter

photoWinter can be harsh on your dog’s paws, but there are easy ways to protect your canine buddy’s peds from the elements during this time of the year.

Trim the fur underneath

Slushy snow, which may contain grit and salt, has a tendency to stick to fur. Flattened snow, grit, and salt on the bottom of your dog’s paws will make walking and balancing on his feet more difficult.

You’ve probably had compacted snow on the bottom of your boots before and found it hard to keep from slipping. It’s similar for your dog. But if the fur between his toe pads is the same level as the pads, then less snow will cling to it.

Keep nails short

Untrimmed nails can cause your dog’s toes to spread when he walks. That extra space means snow and ice can accumulate between his toes and make walking painful. Try walking with cotton wool between your toes and you’ll know how it feels.

Long nails affect your pet’s weight distribution as well. With his weight on the back of his feet, he’ll have less traction, making him more prone to slipping and getting injured when walking on an icy path.

Wash those paws

Whenever you come home from walking outside, wash your pet’s paws in warm water to warm his feet up; dissolve any ice between his toes; and wash off any salt or de-icers – your dog might lick his paws and ingest these substances, which can cause diarrhea and vomiting.

Check the pads

De-icers, which are mostly made from rock salt, can cause your pooch’s pads to become dry and crack. Snow, grit, and de-icers can build up in these cracks, leading to infections, soreness, and blisters.

To prevent dryness and maintain suppleness, you can apply foot balm or Vaseline to the pads. Check your dog’s paws daily so you can spot any cracks, abrasions, or stuck grit and treat injuries as soon as possible.

Buy some booties

Consider getting your pooch some dog booties. They will not only protect his feet from salt, grit, and de-icers, but also help retain body heat. Your dog can quickly lose body heat through his paws when they come into contact with the cold ground, so booties can decrease the risk of hypothermia.

Since your dog doesn’t normally wear shoes, have him wear the booties in the house for short periods of time so he’ll get used to them. Praise him as he walks around in them.

Treat them like your own

Remember, your dog’s  paws get cold, sore, and blistered too! Treat them as you would your own so your pet will have happy feet during the wintertime.

Categories Dog CareTags

Leave a comment on Guarding Your Dog’s Feet in the Winter

Treating and Preventing Canine Hypothermia

photoYour pooch can get hypothermia from taking a bath during the winter, especially if he is exposed to the cold before being dried. And while it is a treatable condition, it can cause permanent tissue damage if not dealt with promptly.

Canines that have difficulty maintaining their normal body temperature are more vulnerable to hypothermia, i.e.:

* Small dogs
* Short haired dogs
* Wet dogs
* Dogs that are sensitive to cold weather
* Dogs that stay outside for extended periods without access to dry and warm shelter

Treating hypothermia

To combat hypothermia, you need to get your dog warm so his core temperature can return to normal.

If you are out walking your pet and he is suffering from the cold, you have to prevent further body heat from escaping. If you have a small dog, you can simply pick him up and carry him home. If you have a larger breed, you should head back home as quickly as possible.

Once indoors, you can do the following:

* For mild hypothermia, i.e. your dog is shivering and his muscles appear stiff, take him to a warm room with a well insulated floor and wrap him in a dry and warm blanket. Keep him like this until his temperature gets back to normal – use a thermometer to determine this. If you don’t have a thermometer, wait until he stops shivering, has more movement in his body, and returns to his usual self.

* For moderately severe hypothermia, i.e. your pet’s body temperature is about 90-94 degrees Fahrenheit, you will need some rewarming tools such as hot water bottles, hairdryers, heat lamps, warm baths, heat pads, and warm towels. Don’t try to use water that is too hot – it can burn his skin. The water should be 103-105 degrees Fahrenheit, which are a few degrees above your dog’s normal body temperature.

Keep an eye out for any adverse reactions as your pooch warms up. You know how your fingers can start aching and tingling after you come in from the cold? Your dog will experience similar feelings and he might lash out due to confusion.

* Severe hypothermia should be treated immediately by your vet, who may perform stomach flushes, warm water enemas, and other internal warming procedures.

Preventing hypothermia

As the old saying goes, prevention is better than cure. Here are some ways to keep your dog from getting hypothermia:

* Don’t leave your pooch outside in the cold for a long time and provide access to a dry and warm shelter.
* If your dog gets wet while you are outside, the wind chill factor can make him colder much faster, so always bring a towel with you so you can dry him off when needed.
* Consider buying a coat and booties for your dog.
* If your pet is sensitive to cold weather, take him outside only when he has to go to the bathroom.

Categories Dog CareTags

Leave a comment on Treating and Preventing Canine Hypothermia

Winterizing Your Exercising

photoHow do you keep your pooch fit during the winter when it’s too cold to go outside for a daily walk? There are lots of ways! A couple of these exercises require equipment, but most can be carried out with what you already have around your home.

If you have stairs, you can get your dog to run up and down the steps with you a few times. You’ll get a good workout, too. You can also teach your pet new tricks that involve a lot of physical activity and have him perform them again and again.

Games, such as fetch, can be turned into exercise. Playing fetch for half an hour each day will keep your dog in shape. You can play hide-and-seek as well. Hide somewhere in the house and call your pet’s name until he finds you. Or you can hide his toys and have him find them. At the beginning he might not understand what you want him to do, so show him the objects and act like you’re trying to locate them and he’ll do the same. This game might take more time but your dog will enjoy it.

If you have enough space in your home, you can set up an indoor obstacle course for your dog and keep it until the winter is over. Be creative in building the obstacle course. Use old tables, chairs, drawers, pails, and pillows. Make it fun and colorful by including toys, photos, and other items.

If you don’t mind spending on some exercise equipment, you can get a dog exercise ball and teach your pet to balance on it. Or you can buy a dog treadmill, but check first if it suits your dog’s personality. It can be expensive, too; prices range from $300 to $3000.

You don’t have to be confined to your home, though. You can take your dog to a pet daycare and tell them that you want your pooch to get at least half an hour of exercise. Or you can go to the mall and walk around there.

Should you decide to walk your dog outside, wear warm enough clothes. Consider dressing your dog, too. You can easily find coats, turtlenecks, sweaters, hoodies, jackets, and boots for canines online and in pet supply stores.

Remember, wintertime doesn’t mean that your dog’s fitness has to be put on the back burner!

Categories Dog CareTags

1 Comment on Winterizing Your Exercising