Thursday, January 19, 2017

Pet Pointers: Cold Winter Safety Tips

By now, we all know how to keep ourselves safe and warm during the cold winter season – usually involving multiple layers of clothing and delicious hot chocolate. However, as we prepare to enter yet another bone-chilling winter, it's important to be mindful of our pet's well-being.

With mounds of snow and ice expected in the weeks ahead, I have a chance to offer some insights from the experts at Camp Bow Wow, North America's most trusted pet care franchise, to help keep your furry loved ones safe and healthy during the cold winter season.

Cold Weather Safety
  • Never let your dog off the leash in snow or ice. Although it may seem like a fun option to let your pup frolic in the snow, it can prove to be extremely dangerous. Dogs tend to lose their sense of smell in extremely cold weather and become lost. Believe it or not, winter has the highest rates for lost dogs!
  • Thoroughly wipe down your dog when he comes back into the house after being in the snow or taking walks. It is common for dogs to ingest ice melt salts from the ground by licking their paws when they are back in the house. If the ice melt is not pet safe, it can prove to be very toxic.
  • Never leave your dog in the car; your vehicle can act like a freezer in the winter, trapping heat outside and causing your pet to freeze to death.
  • Fresh water is a must at all times, as your dog may be more likely to lick ice and eat snow if he/she is thirsty from lack of water. While hydrating this way, your pet may ingest poisonous snow-melting-salts and antifreeze.
  • Keep your pet's fur full length. Your pet's fur keeps them warm in the winter, so never shave their fur off. If you have a dog that has short hair, you might want to purchase a jacket or sweater for them to wear if they have to be out in the cold for any bit of time.
Tips for Safe Exercising in Winter with Pets
  • Just as we need to add layers to guard ourselves from the cold, short-haired dogs need the same protection. Even as internal body temperatures rise with exercise, cold air counteracts this warmth. When taking a short-haired friend out, dress your dog in a sweater or jacket to make sure he's stays warm inside and out.
  • The salt and chemicals that are used on streets to melt ice can irritate the pads of dog's paws. Be sure to give his feet a good wipe when you get home, before your dog gets the chance to lick them and consequently irritate his mouth as well. Chemicals can actually be deadly for them if they lick them. Also, it's important for parents to use pet-safe ice melt at their home. They can actually wear booties as an alternative.
  • Many people will let dogs run around in a fenced in yard unsupervised. Avoid this in the winter, especially in snow, as there's potential for the dog to get extremely cold, disoriented and lost or hurt.
  • As exercising in cold weather depletes more energy as the body works extra hard to stay warm, make sure your dog has plenty of water and food after a workout.
  • In order to avoid the shock of the cold weather, get your dog's blood pumping before you head outdoors. Just as you stretch to get your muscles warm, toss or roll a soft ball in the house a couple times for your dog to chase after.
  • Walking is a simple yet beneficial practice for both humans and pets alike. When walking with your pet, try to stay on dirt or grass paths, as too much walking or running on concrete can stress joints and irritate your dog's foot pads. Always be sure to keep your dog properly hydrated.
  • Jogging is a great form of exercise, but not all dogs are built to jog. If you want to jog with your pet, choose a breed that is suited to distance-running. Your jog with your dog should include five minutes of warm-up, 20 minutes of jogging, and five minutes of cool-down.
  • Remember: consider the age of your pet when developing an exercise routine. Senior dogs in particular need adequate exercise, but adjust his or her routine to their abilities. A mere 15 minutes of massaging and stretching every day will raise your dog's sense of well-being. Jogging with your dog may not be appropriate if he or she is arthritic, but swimming and other low-impact activities are great for dogs with joint pain.

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