Monday, January 28, 2013

Parkers Pointers-- Winter Care for Your Canine

Parkers Pointers: Winter Care for Your Canine

I may be a cat, but I care for my canine friends too! Here are some things you should know about when it comes to dogs and the winter season! 
Winter's cold weather brings many concerns for dog owners. Remember not to leave your dog outside in the cold for long periods of time. Pets can get frostbite too, especially on their ears, tail and feet. The wind chill makes days colder than actual temperature readings. Adequate shelter is important, try to keep your dog warm, dry, and away from drafts. Make sure they have somewhere soft and warm to cuddle up on, but be careful of supplemental heat sources. Fireplaces and portable heaters can burn your dog. Make sure fireplaces have screens, and keep portable heaters out of reach.
Be very careful when walking or playing with your dog near frozen lakes, rivers or ponds, if your pet fell in, it could result in serious injuries. Grooming your dog regularly is also important. Your dog needs a well-groomed coat to keep insulated. Short- or coarse-haired dogs may need some extra insulation, so consider a sweater or coat. Long-haired dogs should have hair around the toes and foot pads trimmed to make it easier for snow removal and cleaning. This helps avoid tiny cuts and cracked pads. A small amount of petroleum jelly may soften the pads and prevent further cracking. If you have never trimmed your dog’s coat before, its best to seek professional help so you do not accidentally cut their delicate pads.
It takes more energy in the winter to keep body temperature regulated, so if your dog spends a lot of time outdoors or is a working animal, additional calories in their diet are necessary. Just like in the summer, with the hot weather, it is important to remember not to leave your dog alone in a car without proper precautions. Even if the car engine is left on, the carbon monoxide will endanger your dog's life, and if the engine is off, the temperature in the car will get too cold.
Unfortunately, dogs cannot tell us when they are sick. As a dog owner, it is important to pay attention to your dog's well being. Each season come with its own set of concerns. In the winter remember that antifreeze, which often collects on driveways and roadways, is highly poisonous. To your dog, it smells good and tastes good, but it can be lethal. Rock salt, used to melt ice on sidewalks, may irritate the pads on your dog’s feet. Be sure to rinse and dry your dog's feet after a walk. Pet safe rock salt is available in most stores.
Always provide plenty of fresh water. Your dog is just as likely to get dehydrated in the winter as in the summer, and snow is not a satisfactory substitute for water. Like people, dogs seem to be more vulnerable to illness in the winter. Take your dog to a veterinarian if you see any symptoms, and don't use over-the-counter medications on your dog without consulting a veterinarian first.

Be safe out there!

Peace, Love, & Catnip,