Winter care for your dog
Now that the cold months are upon us, we would like to share a few ways to keep your dog safe and comfortable.
Not all dogs enjoy the snow or cold winter days. In fact, they are much like ourselves in the respect that they get used to living indoors and the temperature drops can affect them too.
THINGS TO WATCH FOR:
Frostbite. Frostbite begins when the dog’s body gets cold. The body pulls blood from the extremities to the center of the body to stay warm. The dog’s ears, paws or tail can get so cold that ice crystals will form in the tissue and damage it. Frostbite is not immediately obvious. Watch for signs of pale or grey skin as the skin may also turn hard and cold. As frostbitten areas warm, they can be extremely painful. Severely frostbitten skin will eventually turn black and fall off.
Hypothermia. The other very serious winter weather health concern for dogs is hypothermia. Hypothermia occurs when a dog spends too much time in the cold, gets wet in cold temperatures or when dogs with poor health or circulation are exposed to cold. In mild cases, the dog will shiver and ears and feet will become cold. As hypothermia progresses, your dog may show signs of depression, lethargy, and weakness. As the condition worsens, the muscles will stiffen, the heart and breathing rates slow down, and will not respond to stimuli. Severe hypothermia is life-threatening.
While some dogs are blessed with a thick coat of fur to stay warm, other short-coated dogs may need extra layers to allow them extra comfort when outside.
A good coat should:
- Reach from the neck to the base of the tail
- Protect the belly area (especially for the short-legged breeds)
- Have a warm lining or filling (You may need to pair a coat with a sweater, depending on how sensitive your dog is)
How to measure your dog for a new coat or sweater:
- Start at the base of the neck and end at the beginning of the tail
- Measure the girth at the largest part of their belly
- Measure the neck at the widest part
- Keep note of the measurements in inches or cm
Some companies offer snow pants as well as coats. In the instance that you are interested in these, simply measure your dog’s leg length, from underarm to ankle (not including the paw).
Most ice-melting products used in the city are considered to be skin irritants. Depending on the chemicals used, they can cause dryness, cracking, and even burns to sensitive paw pads.
If you see your dog limping, it’s generally because his pads are hurting or snow has balled up inside the middle of the paw, which can also be painful as it pulls on the hair.
Another more pressing issue of salt is that it can be toxic when ingested. Symptoms of poisoning include drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, and in severe cases, seizures.
There are many different options for protecting your dog’s feet and digestive system.
Boots can be difficult for a dog to understand at first because they hinder their ability to feel the ground, thus making them do that silly, high-stepping walk we have come to know and love. However, they are usually quick to grasp the concept. (Tip: small treats usually help with this part!)
Some of our favourite dog boot lines are:
- Pawsh Pads
It is generally best if you take your dog to the store to try the fit for boots, as they range in sizes, shapes, and fits. However, if you cannot get your dog to the store, here is how to measure their feet:
- Stand your dog on a blank piece of paper. Trace around the foot tightly, including the nails, squishing in the fur as you go along. Be sure your dog puts all his weight on the paw.
- Measure the length of the paw outline from heel to tip of the toenails.
- Be sure to measure both front and back paws, as some dogs have different sized feet!
- Choose the size that fits the entire paw – including toenails but excluding fur.
*A snug boot is the best fit, as a loose boot is apt to slip off.
Another option for those pups who absolutely refuse to wear boots are paw wax protectors.
These are ‘safe to lick’ products, usually made with a beeswax blend, and they not only moisturize the paw pad, but they provide a protective layer against the stinging sidewalk salts.
Some of the waxes we recommend are:
- Invisible Boot
- Dr. Maggie’s
- Pawz Wax
Alternatively, you can simply wash your dogs’ paws with warm, (dog safe) soapy water, after every walk, and apply a thin layer of paw wax to keep the pads moisturized.
Last but not least, let’s touch on snoods, or dog hats.
Not only are they stylish, but they save your dogs’ sensitive ears from frostbite and ear infections from the biting winds!
There are many styles, sizes, and brands available. In most cases, trying these on is the best way to get a good fit.
*Credit to therapydogs.com for some of the info provided here.
*credit to dogologyct.com for paw cleaning picture