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Winter Weather Blues

By: Dr. Amanda Landis-Hanna

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I will start with a confession.  As I write this blog post, I am in Florida.  It is 65 degrees outside.  In many areas, this temperature would be a welcome change from below freezing weather.  But no matter where you live, there are a few things to keep in mind about the cooler months.

1. Car safety
We all know not to leave our pets in cars during hot weather, and yet tragedies occur every year.  But did you know that sitting in a cold car is not only uncomfortable, but potentially dangerous for your dog as well?  If your dog can’t stay with you, consider leaving him at home while you run errands.  Also make sure he is secure in his seat if he does ride in the car with you.  Sliding on ice is a risk for everyone in the car, including your dog.
2. Skin and Feet Protection
Many of us live in areas where it snows in the winter, so your pet may become exposed to sand or salt designed to melt the snow.  Unfortunately, these are often larger particles, and can hurt delicate paws if stepped on.  They can also erode the feet pads due to the abrasive nature of the sand and salt.  Consider booties to protect his feet.  As an alternative, keep baby wipes or a clean towel at each entrance and exit of your home.  Wipe his feet down as soon as you come in from your walk.  And remember, it’s dry out there!  Watch his skin for flakiness; he may need a moisturizing bath and cream rinse.
3. Exercise is Key
Sometimes after the bustle of the holidays, the sofa and hibernating sound like a really good idea.  But your beloved companion still needs the exercise.  It is important to get 20-30 minutes of cardiovascular activity, such as walking, every day.  So bundle up!  Go for a long walk, or a few shorter walks.  Have him chase a toy in the snow.  Go snowshoeing or hiking.  Just remember to warm-up and cool down for at least 5 minutes, to help prevent injury.  It is important to avoid “weekend warrior syndrome” to help prevent sprains or knee injuries, such as a cranial cruciate ligament (CCL) rupture.  Instead, slow and steady, but fun, can win the race to the spring.
So enjoy your winter weather.  Make a snowman together!  Or if you are in the south, enjoy a nice walk knowing that summer is just around the corner.


Dr. LH's dog, Sophie, loves to play outside in the cold weather