|Barked: Sat Dec 1, '07 6:11pm PST |
|1. Never let your dog off the leash on snow or ice, especially during a snowstorm—dogs can lose their scent and easily become lost. More dogs are lost during the winter than during any other season, so make sure yours always wears ID tags.
2. Thoroughly wipe off your dog's legs and stomach when she comes in out of the sleet, snow or ice. S/he can ingest salt, antifreeze or other potentially dangerous chemicals while licking her paws, and his paw pads may also bleed from snow or encrusted ice.
3. Never shave your dog down to the skin in winter, as a longer coat will provide more warmth. When you bathe your dog in the colder months, be sure to completely dry her before taking him out for a walk. Own a short-haired breed? Consider getting him a coat or sweater with a high collar or turtleneck with coverage from the base of the tail to the belly. For many dogs, this is regulation winter wear.
4. Never leave your dog alone in a car during cold weather. A car can act as a refrigerator in the winter, holding in the cold and causing her to freeze to death!
5. Puppies do not tolerate the cold as well as adult dogs, and may be difficult to housebreak during the winter. If your puppy appears to be sensitive to the weather, you may opt to paper-train him inside. If your dog is sensitive to the cold due to age, illness or breed type, take him outdoors only to relieve himself.
6. Does your dog spend a lot of time engaged in outdoor activities? Increase his supply of food, particularly protein, to keep him—and his fur—in tip-top shape.
7. Like coolant, antifreeze is a lethal poison for dogs. Be sure to thoroughly clean up any spills from your vehicle, and consider using products that contain propylene glycol rather than ethylene glycol.
8. Notice that your skin is drier and flakier during the winter? Your pet's skin may dry out, too, causing his coat to lose insulating ability. If you notice flaking skin ("doggie dandruff") or a lusterless coat, ask your vet about adding a tablespoon or two of vegetable oil to his food.
9. Make sure your dog has a warm place to sleep, off the floor and away from all drafts. A cozy dog bed with a warm blanket or pillow is perfect.
10. Like people, dogs seem to be more susceptible to illness in the winter. Take your dog to a veterinarian if you see any suspicious symptoms.
If you see an animal left out in the cold, please speak to its owner, or notify your local police or animal welfare agency! Difficult as it may be, when talking to neglectful pet owners, don't be accusatory or belligerent. Get your point across conversationally, if you can, and in a friendly manner. Ignorance is curable by education.
Have fun in the snow with your dog! Just don't stay out too long! (And no hot chocolate for dogs when you come inside, either!)
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