Winter Tips for Dog Owners
As the colder weather hits, there can be challenges that occur for dog owners. It’s important we’re all aware of things that can be harmful to our dogs in the Winter months, therefore we’ve summarised some of the key things below.
The Dangers of Anti-Freeze
Anti-freeze contains the chemicals ethylene glycol, methanol and propylene glycol, all of which are toxic if consumed. Consuming just a small amount of anti-freeze can result in extensive kidney damage and even death. Symptoms of poisoning include:
- Excessive thirst
- Increased urination
- Muscle trembling and seizures
Take extra care to ensure your dog does not accidentally ingest anti-freeze. If you suspect your dog has consumed anti-freeze, contact your vet immediately.
Keeping Warm in Cold Weather
Older dogs, smaller dogs and finer breeds are more sensitive to the cold, therefore it is important to take the necessary measures to keep them warm. One of the easiest ways to help your dog maintain body heat is to get them a coat. With many designs available, we recommend getting one that is not only warm, but also waterproof, to help keep your dog shielded from the harsh winter elements. If your dog gets wet whilst on a walk, it is important to dry them off thoroughly afterwards, to reduce the risk of hypothermia.
Where possible, it is best to avoid long walks in extremely cold conditions, frequent shorter walks are ideal in these conditions.
Be safe, Be Seen
When you can, walk your dog during daylight hours. If you have to walk your dog in the dark ensure both you and your dog can be easily seen by other road users and pedestrians. We recommend making use of high visibility clothing and attaching a small light to your dogs collar.
Try to avoid letting your dog off lead in poorly lit areas. If you are planning on letting them off the lead, only do so if they have good recall skills. Ensure your dog is microchipped and details are up to date, this will make it easier for you to be reunited should they go missing.
Many dogs will be less active during the winter months, meaning that their energy requirements will be lower. Consuming more calories than they burn from exercise, can quickly result in your dog gaining weight. Being overweight predisposes your dog to an array of other health concerns, including arthritis and high blood pressure. Therefore it is important that they remain an appropriate body weight.
Review your dog’s diet and cut back on excess energy where possible to avoid unnecessary weight gain during the winter months. You can keep your dog active indoors by providing them with plenty of toys and boredom busting devices.
After every walk it is important to check and thoroughly clean your dogs paws, especially if walking on a surface that has been de-iced. The chemicals found in grit salt that is used to de-ice road surfaces in the winter can irritate your dogs paws. It can also be toxic if consumed.
Snow exposure can dry out your dog’s paws and leave them susceptible to developing frostbite. After a walk it is important to remove all snow from your dogs paws. Snow can easily become impacted between the toes of long haired breeds, causing a great deal of discomfort. Prevent build up off snow on your dogs paws by regularly trimming excess fur from the paw area.
Using a nose and paw balm can be very helpful during the winter months to protect your dog’s paws. Nose ’N’ Toes is a specially formulated soothing balm, made of a blend of shea butter, beeswax, essential oils and vitamin E. It can be applied directly to the paws after walks to restore dry, chapped and damaged skin.