Welcome to another installment of “Dear Maxine”, where my canine, feline (and occasional human) friends, write in for advice on immunizations, nutrition, behaviors and anything else on their minds. (Full disclosure, my human mom helps me type this.)
I read your previous post about how to keep dogs safe from the horrible heat that strikes us every summer and that was wonderful information! But now that Old Man Winter has arrived, how can I keep my two recently adopted (& adorable) pit bull mixes happy, safe and healthy through the cold, snow and ice?
Freezing in Fremont (Nebraska)
I love to play in the snow too, but just like humans, we need to take precautions when winter hits the area. Here are a few simple things we can do:
Protect your dog’s paws—if ice, sleet or snow is on the ground...consider booties. I know, I know, not everyone’s cup of tea. But they work! If you look at sled dogs, you will see that they wear booties to keep their feet warm, dry and abrasion free. If you cannot get your buddy to wear booties, make extra sure to dry your dog’s feet when they come in from the outdoors. Pay close attention to the areas in between their toes. But it's not only ice and snow that we have to worry about, city sidewalks can also be covered by rock salt and calcium chloride that can be abrasive to your pet’s paws. You can keep a bucket of warm water by the door to rinse and dry their paws when coming in from outside. Some dogs may also need a pet friendly moisturizer to keep their paws from getting dry and cracked.
Limit your pet’s time outside, especially when its below freezing or in extreme weather. Dogs can suffer from frostbite. Keep a special look out for their ears and the tips of their tails. Frostbite often shows as skin that appears blue or white in color. Consider short trips outside to acclimate to the cold weather. Another idea is to bundle up! Just like the booties, they aren’t for everyone but even a parka or sweater can help combat the cold, if your dog is especially sensitive to weather. Remember that as a rule, very young and very old dogs will have trouble regulating body temperature and can be affected more by extremes in weather.
Some winter warnings: Avoid thin ice especially around lakes and ponds, every year we hear about pets falling into freezing water and having to be rescued. It is best to just stay away. Another concern is anti-freeze, which humans use in winter, but this can be toxic and fatal to canines even a small amount can cause kidney failure. Signs of toxicity include drooling, vomiting, panting, thirst and lethargy. Dogs will often appear drunk after ingesting antifreeze. If this happens call your emergency vet immediately.
Playing in the white fluffy snow can be fun and entertaining if we take precautions and use common sense. But if you prefer to stay indoors this winter, there are interactive toys and games that your pet parents can provide to keep your mind and body busy. Check out amazon.com or chewy.com for ideas.
So if you decide you are a snow dog and want to be outside when Mr. Winter arrives, or if you prefer to lay cuddled up in a blanket by the fire, we hope that these tips keep us happy and healthy all winter long. And to my hometown friend, thank you for this wonderful question and thank you for adopting!
Until Next time, Happy Thanksgiving!
Maxine & Brenda