It only takes a quick glance out your window to see that winter is here to stay for a while. Like every season, it presents unique safety challenges for dogs and cats. Fortunately, you can easily minimize these risks to ensure that your pet stays happy and healthy all season long.
Protecting Your Pet Outdoors
Unlike cats who could stay indoors all winter, dogs still need to go for walks and go outside to relieve themselves. When the temperature and the wind chill are below zero, limit this time to no more than is absolutely necessary. A dog-sized coat and covers for the paws will help your dog stay warm when you go for a walk. Additionally, the dog booties protect his paws from road salt that can be painful to step on and get lodged between his toes.
The Pet Poison Helpline fields hundreds of calls this time of year from people who are frantic because their pet ingested anti-freeze. Even a small amount of this substance can be toxic or fatal, particularly for cats and small dogs. If you have anti-freeze spills on your driveway, be sure to keep your pet away from that area entirely. It's also important to keep unused anti-freeze in a sealed container on a high shelf. This substance is attractive to them due to its sweetness and clear appearance.
Mice and other rodents are pesky at any time of year, but they are even more of a problem in the winter because they seek shelter inside of your home to escape the weather. If you use outdoor rodenticides, train your pet to stay away from them and supervise her when she is outside. Like anti-freeze, ingesting rodenticide can create toxic effects in animals within minutes.
When you are outside with your pet, be sure to look for signs of hypothermia or frostbite. Excessive shivering, lethargy, black or bright red tissues, and icicles on the body are the most common indications that one of these conditions has occurred. Please contact us immediately for treatment advice or to schedule an appointment to evaluate your pet's symptoms.
In case of an emergency this winter, please contact the clinic nearest you during regular office hours. After hours, you may contact our on-call doctor at 1-800-924-0588. Our veterinarian will arrange to meet you or refer you to another emergency service if not available to see your pet right away.
It's a brand new year and you promised yourself that you would make it a point to exercise more often. When you own a dog, you have the opportunity to exercise every day by taking him for a brisk walk. Unfortunately, many people don't have the time or desire to provide their dog with this much-needed outlet to burn both energy and calories. When your dog doesn’t get his daily walk, it can lead to unwanted and destructive behavior that frustrates you. Now that National Walk Your Dog Month is here, banish the excuses and hit the pavement with your best friend.
Walking Gives Your Dog Purpose and Helps Fight Obesity
According to the website Slim Doggy, walking your dog just 30 minutes a day is one of the easiest ways to combat the growing obesity epidemic in pets. Sadly, almost half of all dogs in the United States are overweight or clinically obese. This simple activity also satisfies your dog's natural instinct to roam and explore while providing her with mental stimulation.
Here are several other benefits your dog will enjoy when you take her for a walk each day:
- Prevents the development of certain diseases and helps add years to the lifespan.
- Walking provides your dog with your full attention, the thing he desires the most.
- When you walk multiple dogs together, it helps them bond as a pack.
- Regular walks provide your dog with social interaction.
- Walking exposes your dog to a wide variety of situations and weather conditions, which helps to increase his confidence.
As much as you might like to stay inside under a warm blanket on a bitter cold winter day in the Midwest, your dog still needs to walk. However, it's important to take extra precautions to ensure her safety during this season. At least once a week, be sure to trim the fur between each of her toes to prevent icicles from forming on her paws. You may also want to consider covering her paws with booties made especially for dogs.
To prevent accidental injury to your dog, do not permit her to walk on piles of ice. Finally, pay attention to the signals your dog sends you that she's had enough of walking and the cold weather. These could include whining, fatigue, disorientation, or extreme anxiety. If your dog displays any of this behavior, cut the walk short and head home.
Walking Benefits You as Well
Regular exercise helps to alleviate depression and the symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder, the latter of which is common in Wisconsin and Minnesota due to our long, cold winters. It also helps to burn calories and reduces your risk of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. Perhaps most importantly, walking your dog every day gives him something to look forward to and helps to strengthen the bond between the two of you.
Please contact us at Grantsburg Animal Hospital or visit our Canine Health Care Library with questions about choosing the right leash, how to handle it when your dog tries to pull you, and other common dog walking concerns.