Help Your Dog Enjoy the Great Outdoors This Winter
Published 2/8/16 by Maryland Avenue Pet Hospital
Because dogs grow thicker coats in the winter, their owners are sometimes under the mistaken impression that they will be fine no matter how long they spend outdoors. This is simply not true. Dogs have the same risk of developing hypothermia or frostbite that people do. At the same time, they need to go outside in the winter for exercise and to do their business. Therefore, it’s up to you to ensure that your dog remains happy and healthy all winter long.
Equip the Doghouse if Your Dog Must Remain Outside for Long Periods
When the temperature and the wind chill factor struggle to make it to positive numbers, it’s best to keep your dog indoors. If she must remain outside during the day, make sure that her doghouse is insulated well. It also needs to be warm, dry, and provide enough room for her to stand up and turn around comfortably. If the doghouse is too large, it will let in too much cold air and your dog will lose precious body heat. One easy way to reduce the wind reaching the doghouse is to put up a tarp. Placing blankets on the floor provides an extra layer of insulation as well.
Dog Walking Precautions
Going for a walk with you is one of the highlights of your dog’s day. When the weather is extremely cold, putting on a sweater helps him retain more of his body heat. Another important thing to consider is irritation to your dog’s paws. Salt, calcium chloride, and other materials used to melt ice can be painful for your dog to step on in addition to getting caught between his toes. Placing a dog boot on each foot before you go out for a walk is the best way to solve this problem.
When you come home from your walk, offer a heated bed for your dog so he can fully restore his body heat. This is better than using a space heater because your dog could accidentally knock it over and start a house fire.
Grooming Needs During Cold Weather
Snow, sleet, ice, and strong winds can mat and tangle your dog’s fur. If you don’t already brush her fur daily, be sure to do so during the winter. You may also want to consider giving her a vitamin supplement to promote healthy skin and a full coat. Paw care is especially important at this time of year too. Even if your dog wears booties on walks or when outside in the back yard, take the time to wipe off her paws each day. Using medicated bath wipes helps to prevent frostbite and other painful problems.
Keep Anti-Freeze Away from Your Dog
Dogs are attracted to anti-freeze because it looks like water to them and it also has a sweet taste. Unfortunately, your dog only has to ingest a few tablespoons of anti-freeze for it to be fatal. Be sure to keep him out of the garage this winter and supervise him around the driveway if there has been an anti-freeze leak. Also, keep unused anti-freeze stored on a high shelf.
Please contact Maryland Avenue Pet Hospital immediately or see our after-hours emergency information page if your dog has ingested anti-freeze or you are concerned he may have developed frostbite or hypothermia.
Choose Safe and Fun Toys from Our Online Store
We recently started an online store, My Vet Store Online
, that allows you to order food, medicine, and other supplies and have them delivered to you at an address you specify. This is also the ideal place to shop for holiday gifts for your dog, cat, or even your horse.
We have made Internet shopping even easier by breaking down our gifts section into several sub-categories. For example, choose Gifts for Chewers
to find rawhide rings, Kong chew toys, and other presents for dogs who always seem to have something in their mouths. For the feline friend in your life, navigate to our Gifts for Cats
tab to find something even the most finicky cat will enjoy.
Maryland Avenue Pet Hospital guarantees that all toys in our online store have passed rigorous safety standards. Toys may seem like they're just for fun, but your pet needs them for a happy and healthy life. Without toys to occupy his time in your absence, your dog could become quite destructive. While cats have a more independent nature, they also need toys for exercise and to prevent boredom. Wrestling a Kong toy with your dog or tossing a toy mouse for your cat to find are also great ways to bond with your pet. This is even more important at this busy time of year.