Ho, ho, ho – whoa it’s cold out there! The perfect weather for a blanket and a Netflix binge, or Hulu, or Prime. But what about my furry best friend? I know he hates horses on the screen, but I never really asked what he likes to watch. It starts the same time every year; once we set the clocks back, welcome to cold and darkness. Who wants to go outside? I believe that bundle of fur trying to bore its eyes into the back of my head anytime I get near his leash is ready for some cold!
Adoptable Zero surveying the first snow!
So how can we keep our dogs happy and safe during spells of extreme cold? Yes, the season is easier for those blessed with a double layer of fur and a genetic predisposition to winter, but what about all the pups who love hot weather? They wouldn’t last five minutes in a snow patch, so what can be done to help them with the boredom we all feel when stuck in the house too long? Well, I’ve got a few tips up my sleeve.
Let’s start at the bottom, the paws. You think your hands get dry in the winter, try walking in the snow on them. (Don’t!) Cracks and bleeding are the result of too much exposure to the cold, so first take care of that with a cream made for dog pads, then take steps to keep it from happening again. Booties? My dog never, but if your fashionista enjoys wearing cute boots before heading out, just make sure they fit properly. Otherwise, it’s a good idea to keep fur short between pads so snow can’t stick.
Once inside, wipe everyone’s feet. Not for the sake of the carpet, but something much more serious. Neighborhood snow can contain harsh deicing chemicals, anti-freeze, and ramped up salt products – all irritating to skin and dangerous if licked off later. Did you know Morton, the “When it never rains, it pours” people, have a Safe-T-Pet product that melts ice with zero salt and no chlorides? (I’m sure they’re not the only ones.) Elevated sodium levels can cause tremors or seizures in animals, and calcium chloride, a common ingredient in deicers, can cause mouth ulcers. Nobody wants to take a tumble down a slippery driveway, so load up on the safe stuff before the snow and ice. And even pure and gentle snow causes dry skin if not brushed off.
Adoptable Fella loves a good sweater!
When the weather turns, a sweater is always nice, as long as it’s kept dry. Also, make a habit of brushing your dog’s fur to get rid of the old and make room for the new fuller coat. Matted fur just isn’t as insulated as fluffy. But always remember you’re in charge of figuring out when it’s time to go in. Even if you’re warm as toast in your high-tech self-heating jacket, frostbite and hypothermia are real threats to your beloved four-footer. Keep your eyes open for these warning signs:
Slow walking or a full stop
Burrowing activity to seek shelter
Now what about our warm temperature lovers, those hot house flowers with little protective fur and low body weight? They have to go out sometimes, so make it a short trip. Add some excitement by hiding a few treats in the backyard, a nice bonus as your dog does its normal ground sniffing. Or take your buddy for a warm car ride. My dog gets very excited when he knows he gets to come with, no matter the destination. And some shops are dog friendly, so check around to see which towns open their doors to four legged customers.
Adoptable Clark helping make his enrichment games/snacks!
Bored? Create an indoor agility course using household items like brooms or ladders, sheets between chairs to make a tunnel, or even a game of catch up and down the stairs. Baby, it’s cold outside, but the games are heating up inside! Any other friendly dogs available for a playdate? Easiest of all, throw on some music and dance! There’s no judgement: freestyle it or grab the front paws of your young and spry partner for a soft waltz together.
The best thing about all these activities? Everyone has a good time, and more importantly, everyone stays safe. And just think, only a few more months until spring. Happy new year to each and every one, from our house at FTF to yours!
Written By: Deanna B.