Extreme winter conditions are challenging enough for humans, so imagine how sub-zero temperatures and wind chills can affect your pets. This is why we like to spread the word with our guests at the Good Dog Hotel & Spa about winter dog safety tips.
Take a look at our answers to some of the most popular questions from dog owners. And as always, consult your veterinarian if your dog seems sick or has suffered an injury due to freezing temperatures or harsh weather conditions. (Note: for more cold weather safety tips for dogs, visit the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals website.)
Can the salt used to treat the streets hurt my dog’s paws?
There are lots of different products that community crews use to melt snow and ice, most of which can damage concrete and vehicles. So, just think how they might affect your dog’s paws. What do you do? Some owners have success with applying Vaseline on the paws so the cushions don’t get burned, but that can get messy once you’re back indoors. No matter what, you should always rinse off your dog’s paws after a walk where snow and ice are melting, dry them thoroughly and consider using baby wipes as a convenient way to keep them clean. In addition, make sure that any ice melt products you purchase for your home are paw-friendly – free of salt and chloride. You can find out the brands of pet safe ice melts with a quick Internet search, or by consulting your local pet supply store.
Can dog boots really make a difference?
Boots, coats and accessories are often seen as needless fashion statements for the coddled, but don’t be too quick to judge. There is a vast array of styles and quality of dog boots that can provide much needed warmth and protection. Just make sure to keep the inside of the boots dry and clean – and don’t let your dog wear them for an extended amount of time. Look for boots that fit properly, and can be adjusted to prevent slipping. And keep in mind that your dog might need some time to adjust to the sensations of wearing dog boots before they venture outside.
How do you know if it’s too cold?
Simple common sense can help you answer this question. Lots of dogs can tolerate extreme winter conditions much better than humans. But obviously, a Yorkshire Terrier will not handle cold temperatures the way an Alaskan Malamute will. If your dog has a thicker coat, he can withstand colder temperatures. Either way, he’ll most likely let you know when he’s reached his limit. Look for signs like shivering and wanting to come back inside immediately. Provide protection if possible (like boots and even a coat), and choose safe places (away from frozen ponds, for instance) to explore the wintery outdoors. As always, if it is too cold for humans, it is too cold for our pups!
How can I help my dog stay warm?
There are lots of products that provide dogs with extra heat, including coats, electrically heated pet beds and blankets. Should you buy them? Short-haired breeds can particularly benefit from an extra coat during cold weather, but make sure it covers the body without obstruct movement. Any electric heating bed or pad can carry with it the risk of burns, so make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions. And good old-fashioned blankets can add layers of insulation in crates, dog houses and beds.
Why are my dog’s eyes so dry?
Some breeds are susceptible to eye irritation during the colder months, because the air is much dryer. This can cause “dry eye” in dogs, which can include mucoid discharge, conjunctivitis, and irritation. The surface of the eye (cornea) can become scarred and affect vision without prompt treatment. Artificial tears can also be used to help moisten the eyes. But be aware that what might start as an irritation can become serious quickly, so get your dog into a veterinarian if you see signs of trouble.
How can I exercise my dog when it’s so cold?
There are lots of indoor activities you can do to exercise your dog. Visiting a doggie daycare is a great option, because your dog will exercise and socialize at the same time. You can also supervise treadmill walks, or play games that require frequent trips up and down stairs. Other options include playing indoor dog games (you can find ideas online), visiting pet-friendly stores and roaming the aisles for quick bursts of exercise, or working on obedience.
Are ear infections common in winter months?
Many dog owners associate ear infections with the summer, but they can occur all year long. And unfortunately, the infection can be advanced before you even notice it. In most cases, routine ear washes can be beneficial in the treatment and prevention of infections. Consult your veterinarian for advice on types and frequency of ear washers.