February 7th 2017

The best ways to care for your dog during winter.

Photo Credit - Pexels

For many pet owners, winter is filled with fun photo opportunities in the snow, play dates with other pet friends at the park, and long walks in the crisp air. However, the coldest months can be harsh on pets just as they are on humans, bringing severely dry skin and dangers such as poisons, exposure, and injuries on ice. It’s important to be aware of these risks and know how to prevent them, and it’s also important to get the entire family involved in taking care of your pet.

Teaching children the right way to care for an animal will ensure that both they and the pet will stay safe, and it will also give you some peace of mind when the temperatures drop. Here are a few tips on the best ways to keep your dog safe and make sure your family communicates well regarding his health and caretaking.

Limit his time outside 
Even if your dog is a breed that loves snow or has thick fur, you’ll need to limit his time outside on days when the temperatures drop swiftly. That thick fur coat won’t protect him from frostbite or exposure, especially when the day or evening is below freezing. Let him out to play for a little while, but bring him back in to warm up after fifteen minutes or so. If you’ll be going away during winter months on vacation or for a business trip, consider boarding your dog rather than taking him with you. It can be difficult for some dogs to adjust to different temperatures so rapidly.

It’s also important to make sure your pet has fresh water outside, so check to make sure it hasn’t frozen over. He’ll get dehydrated easily after spending time outdoors, and he’ll also need more protein to replace the energy he loses staying warm, so talk to your vet about giving him a bit more food at mealtimes. 

Wipe those paws

When your dog goes for a walk, he can pick up all sorts of things on his paws. In the wintertime, this can include poisons such as antifreeze, salt, and de-icer, which can be harmful or fatal if your dog licks his feet. After each walk, be sure to wipe off his paws with a warm washcloth or pet wipe.

Watch for dry skin
Your pet’s skin can suffer in dry winter months just like yours can, so watch for excessive scratching and be sure to brush his coat daily to keep it healthy. If you notice dry skin beneath the fur, ask your vet about a fatty acid supplement that can be administered with your dog’s food.

Teach the kids about responsibility
It’s important to make sure the entire family is on the same page regarding your dog’s well-being. Make sure your home is optimized for your dog (especially if it’s getting on in age). Teaching your children the proper way to care for your pet takes a little time and patience, but it’s something that will stay with them for life and will help ease the burden from your shoulders. For younger kids, give them an easy pet-related chore to complete each day, such as putting his food in the bowl or brushing his coat. Be sure not to mix these chores up with punishments for your child; for instance, having her pick up your pet’s waste from the backyard because she brought home a bad grade. This might lead to resentment toward the animal.

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