Thursday, December 16, 2010

Winter Proofing Your Pup!

Bundle up for walks
Most dogs love the snow but some need a little help to keep warm on the super cold days when out on a hike.  Short haired breeds like Greyhounds, Boxers or Chihuahuas as well as many other small breeds could wear a coat to keep them comfortable.  Go for a sporty water resistant type coat to keep your pup warm and dry in the snow, sleet and rain. 

Don't forget the paws
Winter weather can be tough on paws of all breeds.  Not only the cold but the salt and and ice can make the pads dry and sore.  There are a few options to keep your pups paws on good shape:
  • Booties.  You can find dog booties in all shapes and sized at your local pet stores.  You can have the staff help you find the right style and size for your pup.  Make sure to find a good snug fit to prevent loosing one in the snow.  Practice getting your pup used to them in the house.  Use treats and games to slowly get him/her used to walking in them.
  • Pawz.  These are a great alternative to the old standard booties.  They are sold as 'the world's only disposable and reusable, waterproof dog boot'.  They are made of rubber like a balloon and fit on like a sock.  Most dogs don't mind the feel of them at all as they can still feel the ground beneath them.  It keeps the paws dry and protected from the salt as well.  Check out this site for more info
  • Paw Balms.  These are a blend of natural or synthetic oils and waxes you can apply to the bottom of your pups paws before a walk.  It helps prevent irritation from salt and also helps prevent snow clumping up in between the pads causing discomfort.  Be sure to wipe paws clean after each walk as it can sometimes leave a waxy film on your floors.  There are many different types available at your local pet store.  Here is a link to one of my favourites
Cold weather danger
Most dog owners are familiar with the dangers of antifreeze but it never hurts to be reminded.  Be diligent of spills or any containers that may be laying around this time of year as it is said to taste sweet and dogs will often be drawn to it.  If you suspect your pup has gotten into some antifreeze take them to the vet immediately.

Dry Skin
Much like us, dogs get dry skin this time of year due to indoor heating and freezing outdoor temps.  If your dog is itching and scratching and you have eliminated the possibility of fleas there are several things you can do to help.  Feed a high quality food preferably with fish or fish oil in it.  Use a moisturizing oatmeal based shampoo but avoid too many baths as this will only dry the skin out more.   You can also add a supplement like fish or flax seed oils to their food as long as they eat it up right away, you don't want oils sitting around on kibble that's left out all day.

Following these tips will help your pup enjoy all that the winter season has to offer!